Paramount laying off 53 employees worldwide

Part of restructuring of its licensing, consumer-products unit

Paramount is laying off 53 employees worldwide as part of a restructuring of its licensing and consumer-products division. An internal memo from studio COO Frederick Huntsberry and vice chairman Rob Moore went out to staff Thursday explaining the changes.

As part of an overall effort to make the company's "reporting structure more rational and efficient," licensing and consumer products have been merged into motion picture promotions. LeeAnne Stables, executive vp worldwide marketing partnerships, will oversee the merged division.

Other shifts include:

-- The development and production of feature films made for home entertainment and digital platforms are being consolidated under Tom Lesinski as president of Paramount Digital Entertainment; and

-- The distribution of motion pictures on digital platforms will be handled by Hal Richardson, president of Paramount Pictures Worldwide Television Distribution.

For the first half of 2010, Viacom reported that worldwide home entertainment revenue decreased 39% to $545 million due to fewer releases, lower catalog sales and lower revenues from other third-party distribution arrangements.

For the same period, ancillary revenue rose 20% to $109 million due to higher licensing and merchandising revenue associated with "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," according to a regulatory filing.

For the full year 2009, filmed entertainment revenue fell 9% to $5.48 billion due to lower theatrical and home entertainment revenue, partially offset by year-over-year growth in TV revenue. Worldwide home entertainment revenue was down 8% to $2.50 billion due to fewer releases and a weak DVD market. Ancillary revenue increased 6% to $277 million due to higher digital and merchandising revenue.

Filmed entertainment expenses decreased $744 million, or 12%, to $5.3 billion in 2009 thanks to a reduced film slate, lower costs associated with third party distribution agreements and a $45 million decrease in restructuring and other charges.

Georg Szalai in New York contributed to this report.