CNN, Tuner To Lay Off As Many As 550 Employees

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  • Bad news has come to Atlanta’s biggest news circuit and it’s in the form of layoffs and buyouts.

    WSB-TV reports:

    ATLANTA — Big changes will soon be coming to CNN staffing.

    Two company executives confirmed late Monday that Turner Broadcasting plans to offer buyouts to hundreds of employees, including those at CNN.

    Reporters for Channel 2 Action News and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution have been working all weekend to track down information after rumors surfaced about possible layoffs within the company.

    A letter was sent to Turner employees on Tuesday saying:

    To support the company’s stated focus on programming, monetization and innovation, we are identifying cost savings and shifting capital allocations to high-growth areas where investment will drive growth and profitability. As part of these efforts, we are offering a Voluntary Separation Program to regular status Turner Broadcasting employees on Turner’s U.S. payroll working in the U.S. and who are at least age 55 and have 10 or more years of service as of December 31, 2014, excluding on-air talent and employees covered by a written employment agreement.

    Today, employees meeting these eligibility requirements will receive a confidential, personalized email detailing the program, its benefits and deadlines for acceptance, which is strictly voluntary. This enhanced benefit offering is just one vehicle the company is implementing as part of a comprehensive plan. Given the current focus on reducing costs and prioritizing investments to maximize company performance, Turner will also undertake additional reductions in staffing.

    We are grateful to the tenured employees whose service and dedication to Turner Broadcasting have made an indelible mark on our business success.

    One of the rumors included the possibility of CNN leaving Atlanta. CNN officials, who asked not to be named, said that is not true.

    One of the officials told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the idea of that happening is too ridiculous to even answer.

    Turner spokesman Jeff Matteson told Channel 2’s Jim Strickland there would be no official comment Monday about the future of CNN, HLN, or any of Turner’s other operations.

    Channel 2 Action News has learned a member of management at one Turner network was told layoffs would be necessary.

    The state Department of Economic Development confirms it has not received notice of a large layoff at CNN or Turner. Federal law requires 60 days’ notice of a layoff of more than 500 people.

    “The only thing we’ve heard are the rumors in the media and that’s all we’ve heard,” said economic development commissioner Chris Carr.

    In a memo to employees last week Turner CEO John Martin pledged to start 2015 as a more streamlined, nimble and efficient company.

    Half of Turner’s 13,000 employees are in Atlanta. CNN is the most well-known entity even though it no longer anchors newscasts here.

    The Atlanta Journal Constitution obtained the transcript of a conference call CNN worldwide President Jeff Zucker had with employees.

    “We are going to do less and have to do it with less,” Zucker said during that call.

    CNN laid off 16 employees in March and realigned 50 more jobs in May.

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    (Photo Source: WSB-TV)

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