Turner Pushes Its Own Employees to Quit With "Enhanced Severance" Packages

Turner CEO John Martin
Turner CEO John Martin
 Courtesy of Turner Corporate US

In Time Warner's ongoing effort to rein in costs and focus investments at its Turner unit, the parent of cable channels TBS, TNT, CNN and HLN will inform domestic employees as early as tomorrow that about 600 of them are eligible for "enhanced severance" if they'll leave the company.

The plan at Turner, which employs about 14,000 people worldwide, involves a formula that will allow workers at least age 55 and with a certain number of years seniority to take a buyout somewhat more generous than the usual two weeks of pay for every one year of service, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Turner CEO John Martin has been talking about streamlining the operation since shortly after taking over from Phil Kent 13 months ago. Martin sent a memo to staff in June saying he was focused on "reducing spending and maximizing growth" and in May he warned of "staff changes" coming at Turner, where programming costs are rising while viewership at many of the channels is not. Also in May, CEO Jeff Bewkes spoke of revolutionizing Turner.

While 5 percent revenue growth at Turner outpaced 4 percent growth for Time Warner at large last year, operating income at Turner increased only 10 percent compared to 12 percent for all of Time Warner.

Changes are likely also in store for HLN, as the cable news network has in recent weeks ended talks that might have merged it with Glenn Beck's The Blaze, and HLN has also considered a joint venture with Vice Media, a digital media company that attracts millennials.

Insiders say that HLN and CNN employees will receive a good portion of the buyout offers.

Aug. 26, 2:30 pm Updated with additional information.

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