Lost in the shuffle

New format means layoffs at Fox News Channel

NEW YORK — Format tinkering at Fox News Channel has resulted in pink slips for about 20 Gotham-based staffers at the fledgling all-news cabler.

Most of the impacted employees are segment producers and guest bookers, insiders said. With the News Corp.-owned FNC moving away from a talk-oriented format and toward more hard news in daytime, the positions became obsolete.

The entire Fox News operation in Gotham, which includes FNC, Fox’s affiliate newsfeed service and the “Fox Files” newsmag, employs about 750 workers. The recent trims reduced that number by about 3%.

A Fox News spokesman confirmed the layoffs but declined further comment.

Talking heads out

Some industry insiders believe the pink slips, handed out over the last few weeks, were at least partially related to FNC’s need to reduce operating expenses. However, Fox News sources say there’s no formal plan in place to cut costs at the 2-year-old operation, and that the recent layoffs were simply a function of a change in format away from a parade of talking heads.

Rather than airing numerous “Fox In Depth” segs on politics, health and other subjects, FNC late last month switched to a news-driven daytime format featuring more newsmaker interviews and video packages. The result is a daytime format similar in feel to that of FNC’s chief rival, MSNBC.

Revamping daytime lineup

As part of the continuing effort to revamp the daytime lineup, FNC execs are considering a plan to dump the weekday “Fox on Entertainment” strip, hosted by former Entertainment Weekly writer Dana Kennedy and talent-search winner Bill McCuddy. The show has proven to be a ratings loser, and FNC execs think its soft news format interrupts the serious news flow of the channel.

Insiders said “Fox on Entertainment” may be reborn as a weekend series.

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