Optus clears its Vision of 100 workers

SYDNEY — Optus Communications pink-slipped more than 100 people and announced a senior management reshuffle at its loss-making pay TV unit Optus Vision Tuesday.

The layoffs bring to 350 the number of employees who have exited Optus Vision since the takeover by telco Optus Communications was announced last month; the rest departed when their contracts expired, through natural attrition and redeployment at Optus Communications.

Optus’ pay TV business, which lost A$168 million ($131 million) in the first half of the current financial year, has been renamed VTV.

Optus Communications said OV chief operating officer Frank Anthony and director of programming Jeff Johnson will leave after overseeing the completion of the absorption of the unit into Optus.

Ric Burns, former head of the stalled Warner channel WBTV, will replace Johnson with the new title of program manager. The future of the Warner channel was thrown into doubt after Ted Turner decided he did not want any new pay channels to carry the Warner masthead.

Optus confirmed to Daily Variety that WBTV is dead. Following the Time Warner/Turner merger last year, “Warner decided not to proceed with Warner-branded general entertainment channels in many markets, including Australia,” said an Optus spokesman.

Optus would continue to explore options for general entertainment which “could include Warner programming,” the spokesman added.

Optus Communications CEO Ziggy Switkowski said he expects VTV’s losses to continue at the same rate, which would mean a full-year loss of more than $260 million.

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