Layoffs Hit Variety in Wake of Sale

4:15 PM PST 11/15/2012 by Alex Ben Block
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As many as 25 people in areas other than editorial are losing their jobs, but new owner Jay Penske says he plans further investment in editorial and digital.

Less than a month after PMC purchased the Hollywood trade paper Variety, the first round of layoffs hit Thursday, with 20 to 25 people losing their jobs.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reported that Variety soon will reduce the frequency of its print publications. Daily Variety publishes Monday through Friday, while weekly Variety comes out on Fridays.

None of the Variety editorial staff was impacted by this round of layoffs, but there were veteran staff members let go in the areas of conferences, administration, systems and circulation and at sister brand LA411/NY411.

A source at Variety said that as of late afternoon Thursday, it was still not clear who was being laid off, and in some cases people had not yet been notified. 

In a press release posted on the Deadline blog, PMC CEO Jay Penske said: “Without a doubt, this is a challenging day, and I particularly wanted to notify and acknowledge those of you who will be saying goodbye to valued colleagues and friends. As we look ahead, Variety’s business holds almost limitless potential and I will remain available to answer any questions you might have regarding today’s changes and our future. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me, or see Tammy Chase to arrange an appointment.

The Deadline posting also said that Penske plans to make “substantial further investment in editorial and digital.” Penske reportedly also plans to take down or at least reduce the online pay wall that prevents nonsubscribers from reading articles.

Penske said in his announcement that he has been reviewing how Variety does business for the past six months, which is long before the Oct. 9 announcement that he was purchasing the venerable Hollywood trade publication. The period before the purchase was when Penske was one of several bidders considering the purchase. Penske reportedly paid slightly less than $25 million  to buy Variety.

Before Thursday, the only major move Penske had made was the appointment of sales executive Michelle Sobrino-Stearns as publisher of daily and weekly Variety.

The L.A. Times also reported that since Penske arrived, a group of consultants has been studying Variety’s operations and also reached out to the entertainment community to see how it wants to receive news in the future.

Calls to Sobrino-Stearns and Penske seeking comment were not returned. 

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