Cabler's focus shifts to off-network fare

TV Guide Network has laid off about two dozen staff members as part of the broader overhaul of the cabler by its new owners.

Several staffers at the cabler’s master control operations in Tulsa, Okla., were let go a few weeks ago as the cabler preps for a shift to HD delivery that will be handled by an outside firm. On Friday, a number of staffers in the Hollywood-based programming department, mostly in-house producers, were laid off.

TV Guide is pouring more of its resources into off-network acquisitions rather than the TV- and pop culture-centric original series and specials it has emphasized in the past. TV Guide Net’s new owners, Lionsgate and JP Morgan Chase’s One Equity Partners, aim to reposition the channel as a general entertainment network. The channel in the past had a large staff of producers to handle one-off specials and its red carpet coverage of kudocasts and premieres. Some of those franchises will continue but more of the production staff will be hired on a free-lance basis.

“These changes were necessary to serve our evolving needs as a network,” TV Guide chairman Allen Shapiro said in a memo sent to staffers Friday.

TV Guide on Thursday announced it has picked up off-net rights to Showtime dramedy “Weeds,” a Lionsgate TV production. It has also recently bought rights to ABC’s “Ugly Betty” and HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

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