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More D.C. Cuts for ABC News

ABC News is laying off "a handful" of full-time and part-time staffers at its Washington, D.C., bureau, a network source confirmed, marking the latest in a number of job moves and cuts there.

ABC News had no official comment.

There was no word on how many staffers would be affected, but according to one source, the number is less than one-dozen. Another source said they would include at least a technical director, an audio engineer, a director, an operations producer and perhaps a scheduler, who determines what shifts people work.

The cuts come because the network will no longer staff an overnight control room. It has increasingly become a backup for New York, where some of the news-programming production once done out of Washington has moved since the departure of Nightline anchor Ted Koppel and the switch to a multihost format for that show, run out of the Big Apple.

The layoffs also follow the move of Terry Moran's major Nightline anchoring duties to New York and ABC News’ ramp-up of HD production, which is being done out of New York. In July, ABC moved Jeff Corwin, director of broadcast operations and engineering in D.C., to New York to work on HDTV production there.

Up until several weeks ago, Nightline commercials came out of the control room in Washington, but they are now handled in New York. Washington also controlled the camera for Moran's Nightline reports from D.C.

"The overnight control room was redundant and we weren't really originating any programming out of there, so we had to eliminate some staff," an ABC management source said. "Any programming coming out of Washington will be routed to the New York control room, which is capable of handling all of the rerouting and programming that used to be handled out of Washington."

"The control room has always been the heart of anything going on in the building," said one bureau staffer, who feared that more layoffs could be in the offing. Disney/ABC contracted with IBM to review its structures and processes, which added to that staffer angst.

The control room will still be staffed during the day, including for some Nightline stories, World News pieces, special programming, Politics Live (a one-hour show that features Sam Donaldson) and segments of Ahead of the Curve.

Those last two shows are on ABC News Now, the network's 24/7 digital broadband service that the company said is available to an audience of 44 million via cable, broadband and mobile, including on Comcast, Sprint Nextel, Verizon Communications, Charter Communications, RCN and MobiTV.

ABC moved about one-dozen Nightline jobs out of Washington and up to New York in June.

The Washington bureau also lost three staffers just last week in a cut of 15-20 broadcast operations and engineering staffers in three cities.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.