Spending slashed by $500 million next year

NBC Universal is prepping another round of major cuts, slashing spending by $500 million next year.

Conglom topper Jeff Zucker announced the reduction Friday via a memo to staffers. Cuts would equal 3% of the company’s budget, according to Zucker.

In the memo, Zucker blamed the current economy, arguing that NBC U needed to take precautionary steps despite coming off eight consecutive quarters of growth and profit.

“We are living in a time of unprecedented economic challenges, and it is increasingly clear that the worldwide economic slowdown will continue into next year,” he wrote. “The leadership team of the company agrees that we must take steps now to prepare for these new economic realities. As a result, all of our business leaders are being asked to cut their spending projections for 2009.”

Memo comes as NBC U division heads prepare to meet with Zucker to go over their 2009 plans. Each chief will be given their own discretion to decide how to make their 3% cut. In his note, Zucker suggested a variety of ways, focused on three areas: discretionary spending, such as travel and entertainment; promotion expenses; and staffing. He also stressed going through NBC U’s sourcing department before making major purchases.

Unlike the company’s 2006 “NBC 2.0″ initiative, the company isn’t specifically plotting a personnel reduction; it’s unclear, therefore, how many staffers might be impacted by the corporate-wide spending cut.

“This kind of message is never easy, but it is the right step to make, and the right time to make it,” Zucker wrote.

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