TV Guide Channel downgrades shows

Layoffs announced as network scales back on originals

The TV Guide Channel is signaling change in direction under its new ownership with the downgrading of three existing series and the layoffs of 38 staffers.

The weekly talk show "TV Watercooler" is going off the air starting June 22.

Daily entertainment newsmagazine "Hollywood 411" will become a weekly show starting June 26. And the weekly TV-centric series "Infanity" will continue as specials starting June 26.

All of the 38 layoffs are in in-house production, most of them tied to the three scaled-back programs.

They include two on-air talent, John Fugelsang and Teresa Strasser of "TV Watercooler," 15 full-time staffers, 15 full-time temps and six open unfilled position. No executives are affected.

The move comes four months after Lionsgate acquired the TV Guide Channel from Macrovision for $255 million. Two weeks ago, Lionsgate sold a 49% stake in the channel to JPMorgan Chase's One Equity Partners for $123 million.

"This is a shift in programming resources and priorities," a Lionsgate rep said. "We're reducing existing in-house made shows to spend more on acquiring new product."

TV Guide recently bid on the off-network rights to HBO's "Entourage," which went to Spike TV, and acquired reruns of MTV's "Punk'd."

The channel is actively pursuing other properties.
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