Heavy Layoffs at Young Broadcasting

Just as a ratings book is about to begin, beleaguered broadcaster Young Broadcasting reportedly demanded a $20 million cut in costs across its station group, according to multiple sources. The higher-priced talent was the first to go, according to these sources.

Chairman Vincent Young neither confirmed nor denied the $20 million figure after several requests for comment.

WTEN Albany, N.Y., dismissed numerous reporters and anchors, reported Albany’s Times Union, including anchor Alyssa Van Wie, sports director Brian Sinkoff, meteorologist Chris Gloninger and reporter John Craig. All told, it was reported that 10 people were dismissed at WTEN and four open positions won't be filled.

Clicking on the staff profiles on the WTEN Web site prompts a message instructing users to “come back in a few days and check out our brand new ‘Meet the NEWS10 Team’ page.”

WKRN Nashville, Tenn., did away with weekend morning news due to what president and general manager Gwen Kinsey told the Tennessean (opens in new tab) was a “minimum audience” there. Reportedly, as many as 15 WKRN staffers were let go this week, according to sources.

WKRN added several Web features of late, such as newsroom blog WKRN News Extra!. Kinsey, who did not return a call for comment about the layoffs, told B&C last month, “As the convergence of media presents us with new opportunities to reach viewers, we're making sure we have the right tools in our tool kit.”

The 10-station group earned $232.83 million in 2006. Young is desperate to unload KRON San Francisco, now a MyNetworkTV outlet, which it paid $823 million for in 2000 (the station lost its NBC affiliation and plummeted in value). Earlier this month, Young announced that it hired banking firm Moelis & Co. to assist with the sale. It hopes to find a buyer and reach a deal by the end of the first quarter.

“Young keeps saying it’s not about KRON, but it’s all about KRON,” said one station consultant who asked not to be named. “They went over a bridge too far in going after KRON.”

Other Young stations include KELO Sioux Falls, S.D.; WRIC Richmond, Va.; and WBAY Green Bay, Wis.

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.