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MTV Networks cue exit music

Staffers at VH1 Classic, MTV2 let go

The bloodletting drew victims at MTV Networks on Tuesday as staffers at VH1 Classic and MTV2 were let go.

In a move that will shift many of the programming responsibilities for the two spinoff nets back to the flagships, many employees on the Classic side and a large number of producers at MTV2 were ankling their jobs.

While exact numbers remained elusive, those familiar with the situation said the departures could account for roughly 50 of the 250 employees who are expected to ankle Viacom cable nets this week.

VH1 Classic general manager Eric Sherman was among the execs who has ankled.

A company rep said nets will retain their focus despite the loss of dedicated staff. “The consumer will not notice any difference in terms of programming,” the rep said.

And none of the channels will be going off the air, the rep emphasized.

Indeed, the coveted real estate on the cable dial — and the fees MTVN receives from operators — ensure that it’s in the company’s interests to keep the nets going even with a vastly reduced staff.

MTV2, in about 63 million homes, has been somewhat active on the production front. This year, it is airing new episodes of “Crank Yankers” and is set to air six new episodes of the hijinx-heavy “The Andy Milonakis Show,” as well as other skeins aimed at the male 12-34 demo.

Classic is in about 45 million homes and has become a repository for the older material once a hallmark of the parent net.

Classic also has tried its hand at original series — recent efforts include “The Alternative,” about offbeat bands of the 1960-80s — but mostly has concentrated on recycling older songs and musicvideos.

Spinoff channels grew up as part of a cable net effort to leverage their relationships with operators, and they were often bundled together as part of negotiations for the flagship in a bid for more revenue.

They also provided a way to expand programming focus. MTV2 was born as a music-centric alternative to MTV after the flagship began investing in nonmusic programming.

Some have since sought out new niches, as MTV2 has in its new guise as a net targeting young males with more outrageous shows than MTV, such as dirty-puppet skein “Wonder Showzen.”

MTVN feels some of that content can now be more efficiently and lucratively distributed on digital platforms. VH1 Classic, for instance, already offers its deep library of content as part of a larger pact with the Urge music service, and there are Viacom efforts to produce edgy content for mobile and other new venues.

More details on the layoffs, which also could claim the jobs at MTV sister nets such as Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and Spike, are expected to come later in the week.

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