ABC laid off an undetermined number of employees Friday in the wake of a buyout offer extended to non-union employees last December.

It was unclear how many staffers were affected by the cuts, which reportedly applied to a relatively small number of clerical personnel and mid-level staffers.

Network officials couldn’t be reached for comment.

Voluntary buyouts aplenty

Reports last month indicated that as many as 500 of 3,000 eligible employees opted to take the voluntary buyout offer as part of a companywide staff reduction (Daily Variety, Feb. 9). Outgoing ABC TV Network Group president John Sias indicated in December that layoffs could follow if not enough employees took the offer.

The network, which counted more than 5,000 employees prior to the buyout, said then that no specific goals had been established and that department heads would be responsible for evaluating their areas in regard to additional cuts. Those taking the buyout had until Feb. 5 to decide whether they would accept the package — which included extended medical benefits and a sweetened severance payout — and were scheduled to leave by Feb. 19.

Overhead reduction

The job-reduction program was initiated in response to what officials cited as the need to decrease overhead due to flat broadcast revenues. Parent company CapCities/ABC reported that net earnings dropped 28% during its recently completed fiscal year, including a “small earnings decline” at the TV network.

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