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Hubs Hurt Birmingham

By mid-February, NBC expects most of the master-control and traffic functions and facilities for its Birmingham, Ala., station, WVTM-TV , to be located at its Miami station WTVJ(TV) . The "hubbing" will eliminate up to 12 jobs in Birmingham, but NBC said the effort is part of the overall digitizing of the industry and was planned before the business climate appeared to sour, although it acknowledged that implementation may be accelerated by the downturn. NBC said it announced the move at its employee Town Hall meeting in 2000.

According to the station group, three hubs are planned, but only the Miami location, NBC's first new station facility in a decade, has been designated. Further locations and rollouts, NBC said, will be determined as the Miami-Birmingham arrangement develops. The layoff process in Birmingham has begun and employees are discussing severance packages with management, although technicians are expected to be needed until April, and some perhaps beyond. The hubbing will eliminate jobs overall, however, though the number of reductions cannot be predicted this early in the process, NBC said. NBC is certainly not the first to combine technical operations. Others groups, including Paramount and Tribune, have created hubs.