Discovery cuts 200 employees in second phase

Most based in Silver Springs HQ

Discovery Communications has laid off 200 employees, or 3% of its total global work force, as part of the second phase of a reorganization under new president and CEO David Zaslav.

The most recent cuts, which had been expected, came from a range of divisions, including such U.S. networks as Discovery Channel and Animal Planet, Discovery Education and Discovery Studios as well as from corporate services areas, including corporate communications and some U.S.-based international employees. The layoffs represent a 20% staff reduction of the sum total of all the affected divisions.

The employees affected were told of the cuts Monday, and most of them were based in Discovery's headquarters in Silver Springs, Md. The Discovery Commerce division, which includes about 100 retail stores plus an Internet site, also is under an overall strategic business review, with the results expected to be revealed in the coming months.

"Today is the second phase of a detailed reorganization of Discovery and is designed to build an aggressive organization that is able to take advantage of new opportunities across television and digital platforms," said David Leavy, Discovery executive vp corporate affairs and communications. "The savings accrued from today's actions are not intended to drop to the bottom line. We will be investing back in original programming, the marketing of our brands and digital media extensions."

It's also understood that the cuts affected employees at all levels, though not at the senior-most levels affected by the first phase of cuts announced in February (HR 2/6). Zaslav, who joined the company in January, announced a reorganization in February that saw the departure of such top-ranking executive as Discovery Networks U.S. president Billy Campbell; TLC president and GM David Abraham; Animal Planet GM Maureen Smith; Dawn McCall, president of Discovery's international holdings; and senior executive vp human resources Pandit Wright. Discovery had issued an earlier round of layoffs in December in its education division, which affected about 80 people.

Last month, Zaslav said that Discovery had agreed to buy out 25% owner Cox Communications, which gets the Travel Channel in the deal. That network was not affected by Monday's layoffs.
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