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MTV Nets cut staff

The ad market claimed more jobs, this time at MTV Networks, which laid off 450 people Monday.

That's about 9% of the programmer's worldwide work force. In a memo to his staff, MTVN Chairman Tom Freston said, "This has been a very tough and painful decision for us to have made. We have the best people in the business at this company and decisions like this, unfortunately, will mean that very capable, devoted and hard-working people leave us."

Internet units MTVi and Nickelodeon Online unsurprisingly took the biggest hits, but the layoffs "touched every channel", said one staffer. Freston said an unspecified "restructuring" of Nickelodeon resulted from "the significantly challenging new economics of the kids' business."

The kids' ad market tanked almost two years ago, well before the broad market slump. Nick At Nite and TV Land are being consolidated. All in-house animation is being shifted to outside companies. MTV and Nickelodeon Latin America will no longer have separate staffs.

While Viacom President Mel Karmazin recently told investors that he would be focusing on expense reductions, the MTVN layoffs are, so far, isolated and Viacom is not setting across-the-board layoffs.
CBS, UPN and Paramount executives all said they knew of no cuts at their networks or studios. - John M. Higgins