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Viacom Cuts BET Staff

In the first sweeping move since its purchase of Black Entertainment
Television in November, Viacom Inc. fired about 40 to 50 employees from the
African-American-targeted network late last week.

BET officials would not confirm the numbers, but they did say the move was
part of a 'work-force reduction. In an examination of strategic efficiencies, we
found some issues on the staffing front that needed to be addressed,' vice
president of corporate communications Michael Lewellen said.

'This can be a normal course of business, even when things are going well,'
he added.

Many of the dismissals came from the network's Washington, D.C.,
headquarters, but several also came out of its New York and Los Angeles

Most of the dismissed employees came out of the affiliate-marketing,
administration and public-relations departments, but BET officials said the move
was spread across other departments, as well.

Lewellen added that the company doesn't anticipate any more layoffs in the

Viacom purchased BET in November for $3 billion.