Peacock preps pink slips

NBC will slash up to 300 jobs

NEW YORK — Pink slips will begin going out at NBC today as the Peacock starts to cut as many as 300 jobs from its payroll.

While some departments will be able to avoid layoffs through attrition and by offering early retirement and buyout packages, up to 200 employees will be informed within the next week that their positions are being eliminated. Department heads will notify employees individually, with some employees being asked to leave immediately and others being asked to stay on for up to four weeks.

Counseling available

NBC plans to have counseling and outplacement services available to laid- off workers beginning Monday. The company’s current severance package — which gives staffers one week of pay for every year they’ve served, up to 20 years, and two weeks’ compensation for every year over 20 — will be sweetened somewhat.

Department and division heads have already gone through staff lists to determine how many positions must be cut and which individuals will be laid off.

“We keep reviewing the list to ensure no prejudice, to ensure no unfairness,” explained an NBC executive familiar with the job-cutting process, adding that the goal is to cut jobs permanently rather than simply lay off individuals.

Hardest hit

Non-programming related support areas such as public relations, finance, legal, travel, building maintenance and human resources are expected to take the largest hit, though no part of the company — including fledgling cabler MSNBC, the NBC Newschannel, CNBC and owned stations — will be exempt from cuts.

NBC topper Bob Wright on Thursday issued a memo to staffers informing them that layoffs were ahead (Daily Variety, Sept. 17).

“In addition to asking all of you to carefully control expenditures, I have asked each division head to look at resources and determine how to reduce our staff size,” Wright wrote.

“I want to make sure that all of you understand that this is not a decision that comes easily — we realize that each one of you deserves credit for our success. But I want to put this in perspective. While it’s important that we make some staff reductions, please be assured we are working to limit the number. We will be helping NBC employees who are affected to make their transition as smooth as possible.”

Wright, whose NBC Television Network is the only broadcast web expected to turn a profit this year, justified the cuts by noting “the television landscape has changed over the past several years. Increased competition for programming and talent has increased our costs on the network side significantly.”

“We need to make changes and adapt while we are on top,” Wright said.

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