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Economic crunch hits Poland’s TVN

Broadcaster lays off staffers, contract workers

WARSAW — One of Poland’s two largest private TV broadcast groups, TVN, has laid off 20 staffers and an undisclosed number of contract workers as it restructures to deal with the economic crisis.

The cuts include journalists on flagship news program “Fakty.”

TVN prexy Piotr Walter hopes that the changes, which include budget cuts for administration, training, consulting services, conference and business trips, will save $4 million-$5 million a year.

The cuts have had no significant impact on programming for flagship channel TVN, which has a market share of around 14%.

However, several shows on the group’s 14 channels have been cancelled and the 2-year-old TVN Lingua educational channel, devoted to learning foreign languages, is shuttering because it failed to meet profit targets.

According to AGB Nielsen Media Research, the Polish TV advertising market has been shrinking in recent months.

TVN sold 12,477 spots in the first three weeks of March, down from 13,531 in the same period in 2008. Its largest rival, Polsat, has seen an even sharper drop from 14,909 spots to 12,487.

TVN announced a 5% discount on its April ad time but was forced to offer a double-digit rebate after Polsat offered a 20% discount.

At the same time, Polish pubcaster TVP, traditionally a market leader with more than 40% of combined market share from its two main channels, offered 10% discounts for April with a further 5% for May.

Despite the fewer spots, TVN’s ad revenue in March was $83.3 million without rebates, up 10% over the same period in 2008, according to Nielsen. In 2008 TVN reported net profits of $106.9 million.

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