ViacomCBS this week laid off 300 to 400 staffers as part of a restructuring that followed the year-end merger of CBS and Viacom and the COVID-19 epidemic that is impacting the company’s ad revenue and stalling production.
The layoffs mostly took place at former CBS units, including the entertainment, news, studio, sports division and the company’s local stations.
Viacom’s cable brands went through a similar round of layoffs in late April.
In a memo to staff, CBS CEO George Cheeks said “we are in the proces of restructuring various operations, and unfortunately, this means there are layoffs.”
ViacomCBS promised Wall Street $750 million in synergies--or cost reductions--as a result of the merger.
“There are several reasons for today’s events. First, in some cases, this is part of our continued integration of operations following the merger with Viacom. You probably have read about recent employee actions at the ViacomCBS cable brands and other cross-company groups,” Cheeks said in the memos.
“Second, these moves are in response to the ongoing and transformative changes happening in the media business, as well as circumstances from the unprecedented pandemic that we continue to navigate,” he said. “We’ve already seen new and creative ways that we’ve adapted to these changes, and that evolution needs to continue.”
In Chicago, CBS’s TV station WBBM laid off about a dozen staffers, including legendary investigative reporter Pam Zekman, according to Chicago media maven Rob Feder. Also losing their posts were morning news anchor Erin Kennedy, sports anchor Megan Marwick, meteorologist Megan Gloros and reportsers Mike Puccinelli and Mai Martinez.
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