Staffers brace for layoffs coming soon at MTV Nets

McGrath memo says 250 to be cut

MTV Networks is expected to announce 250 layoffs this week, according to an internal memo from Judy McGrath, chairman and CEO of the beleaguered Viacom-owned division.

Most of the cuts likely will be disclosed today, sources said, and likely will claim some senior executives. Affected departments could not be determined Monday, but the reductions are being made with an eye on consolidating functions at a company that has long maintained a decentralized structure to keep its myriad brands, including MTV, VH1 and Comedy Central, in operation.

The reductions will be made all week and all told should represent about 6% of MTV Nets' global work force.

McGrath did not reveal which properties would be most affected but hinted that the company is seeking to grow its new-media assets.

"In the U.S., we will build resources against some new businesses — our interactive properties and some of our new networks — and we will make reductions in others," she wrote.

McGrath also said that MTVN's international operations will be "exploring new business models for television and online, which will be evaluated over the near term."

The layoffs are the latest setback for a division that has been reeling since the departure last year of Viacom CEO Tom Freston, who was fired by chairman Sumner Redstone because of MTV Net's slow adaptation to the digital media world. Since then, several other senior execs have left, including Michael Wolf, president and COO of MTV Networks.

"The close-knit culture we have at MTV Networks makes this especially tough," McGrath wrote in the memo. "Everyone here makes invaluable contributions to the company every single day, and it is painful to see hardworking, dedicated people leave us."

MTVN is the latest firm to get socked by the realities of adjusting to digital media. Discovery Networks unveiled a broad restructuring last week, and NBC Universal experienced deep cuts last year.

"Our industry is at an inflection point, and many companies are going through the process of adapting their business models and organizations to the new realities," McGrath said in the memo.