Time Warner Layoffs Underway With More Yet to Come

AP Images
Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes

Turner Broadcasting hopes to trim 10 percent of its workforce

Long-promised layoffs at Time Warner began last week, led by 170 positions lost at CNN as the conglomerate's Turner Broadcasting looks to trim 10 percent of its workforce. Insiders confirmed Tuesday that the continuing layoffs are about to impact Warner Bros., as well.

Among those swept up in the carnage are the New York-based staffers for Christiane Amanpour, CNN's chief international correspondent and host of Amanpour on CNN International, according to insiders. Amanpour, though, relocated with her family to London more than a year ago and will produce her show from there.

The news channel's Washington bureau also lost about two dozen employees.

Also at CNN, entertainment units in New York, Atlanta and Los Angeles that cover film and TV awards shows and red-carpet activities are expected to be completely disbanded, after they had already been cut down to size a year earlier.

Some pink slips went out last week, more were mailed this week and more are expected next week, insiders said.

Read more Warner Bros. Squeezed by Jeff Bewkes Strategy

While Turner, the unit that houses CNN, is seeking to shed about 1,500 positions, some will come through voluntary buyouts. In the case of CNN, CEO Jeff Zucker was looking to eliminate 300 jobs but could only find 130 people willing to take buyouts, so 170 more layoffs needed to occur, insiders said Tuesday. 

Among some of the senior CNN and Turner staffers who are exiting are Darius Walker, vp and Northeast bureau chief at CNN, and Tricia Melton, senior vp entertainment marketing at Turner.

The layoffs come just ahead of Wednesday's investor day in New York, where CEO Jeff Bewkes and other top Time Warner execs are expected to discuss rampant cost-cutting measures. On the docket, according to insiders, is a presentation from Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara, who could announce an effort to trim up to $100 million in annual expenditures, though it was unclear on Tuesday how much of that would come from layoffs.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the effort, saying that Tsujihara's goal was to rein in personnel costs by 13 percent at the TV and film studio, which has endured box-office disappointments like Edge of Tomorrow with Tom Cruise and Blended with Adam Sandler. In 2013, Warner Bros. posted just a 7 percent increase in operating income compared with a 12 percent gain for Time Warner overall.

Read more Turner Layoffs Arrive Amid Search for Strong TV Exec

While Turner fared a bit better by posting 10 percent growth in operating income in 2013, revenue there dropped 5 percent, lagging a gain of 4 percent for all of Time Warner.

Bewkes and his top executives are under intense pressure to keep profits growing and the price of the stock rising since Time Warner's board rejected an $85-a-share acquisition offer from Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox. On Tuesday, Time Warner shares closed flat at $70.64.

While Time Warner and Turner declined comment, a CNN spokesperson released the following statement: "The changes this week are difficult yet necessary. Out of respect for our colleagues directly impacted, we won't be commenting on specific people or programs."

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