MSN Movies and TV Cuts 'Entire' Freelancer Budget

MSN Entertainment Screengrab - H 2013

MSN Entertainment Screengrab - H 2013

The heavily trafficked news portal includes multiple entertainment-focused blogs.

MSN Entertainment is letting go an unspecified number of freelance movie critics, bloggers, junket writers and television recappers on Wednesday, according to an e-mail sent by editor Kent Laird.

"Unfortunately, I am writing you to let you know that effective 10/1/2013 our freelance budget has gone away entirely," Laird, lead editor for MSN Movies and TV, wrote in the e-mail to freelancers obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. "I wish I could say it’s been lowered substantially and we’d just be reducing the work we are doing, but to be honest, it has been taken away and is at $0 for the remainder of the fiscal year."

STORY: AOL Sells Music, Comics Sites

MSN attracted 116 million unique visitors in August, according to comScore. Along with AOL and Yahoo, it is consistently one of the most heavily trafficked U.S. news portals. 

MSN Entertainment includes music, movies, television and pop culture verticals that draw heavily from partner content. It also includes a number of blogs -- among them The Hit ListPage-TurnerUproarTV Buzz, and Reverb -- with freelancer bylines.

Laird stated in the e-mail that all assignments -- including any "blogging, columns, recapping, reviews" -- will be canceled as of Sept. 30. "While we aren’t quite sure yet of some final direction of the site, I am sure that I speak for everyone on the team when I say that working with each of you has been a pleasure and we will truly miss all the interactions we have had," the editor's e-mail stated. 

It's unclear what the future of these blogs will be or how many freelancers/contract contributors are affected by the cuts. Microsoft declined to comment to THR when contacted on Wednesday.

While MSN is losing some entertainment freelancers, some contractors may be added as full-time employees. "We are increasing the full-time staffing and permanent spend by converting some vendor dollars," Brian MacDonald, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Apps, Media and Publishing group, told The Seattle Times

Twitter: @Erik_Hayden