Turner Broadcasting Ends a Tough Week of Write-Downs, Layoffs and Exec Uncertainty

Turner Broadcasting Ends Tough Week of

The big news from HBO at Time Warner’s investor meeting Wednesday overshadowed another surprise announcement that Turner Broadcasting would take a $400 million write-down on programming expenditures.

Turner execs didn’t elaborate on the specific shows that would be written off, nor would execs comment on the matter. But the $400 million figure was seen as a stunner by seasoned industry observers — and more evidence that the management of Turner’s cablers is in need of an overhaul.

Sources say a significant portion of the write-down is coming from two megabuck off-network acquisitions that have been disappointing performers for TNT: “Hawaii 5-0,” from CBS’ syndie arm, and “The Mentalist,” from Warner Bros.

Turner paid a whopping $2.5 million an episode back in 2009 to snag “Mentalist” (pictured) rights; the show is about to head into its seventh and final season. “Hawaii 5-0,” now in its fifth season on CBS, is believed to have grabbed about $2 million an episode in a 2011 deal with TNT.

The write-down news came during a tough week overall at Turner, as the company began implementing layoffs and buyouts of nearly 1,500 staffers across its various divisions. And the company is also finding it an uphill climb to fill its top programming job after months of courting various TV biz insiders.

As recently as earlier this month, former Fox and NBC executive Kevin Reilly was seen as a lock to fill the leadership void at TNT and TBS left by the departures this year of entertainment chief Steve Koonin and programming prez Michael Wright. Now, sources confirm that Turner and Reilly have mutually decided to part ways.

The end of Reilly’s talks with Turner, first reported by Deadline, have stirred renewed speculation about Turner trying to woo Sony Pictures TV exec Zack Van Amburg. Just a few months ago, he signed a new deal to remain co-head of Sony TV’s domestic production unit with Jamie Erlicht.

A rep for Turner declined comment on the write-down and the executive search.


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  1. Jill says:

    I feel really bad for the people that lost their jobs. But some decisions TNT made as paying $2 million for the Hawaii 5-O remake were dumb. Everyone could see the mediocre numbers the show was getting were because the nice Monday slot CBS put the show in , big lead in and weak competition. Without that the show is a failure , as happened on TNT and now on CBS Fridays.

  2. Good!!!! See what happens when you cancel one of the best shows on TV. You lose viewers to your network. Can we sad DUMB @$$??? I hope TNT goes under for this stupid stupid move

  3. cathy trinque says:

    Who cares about TNT? Will never watch this network again!!!! When you cancelled Dallas you put the nail in your own coffin TNT!!!!! #savedallas #boycotttnt

  4. Art Ist says:

    Maybe if they played them when people watch TV they might do better.

  5. Mary Stevens says:

    They lost me when they cancelled Dallas.Bye bye TNT.Idiots.

  6. Jase says:

    There payback for dropping Dallas #savedallas

  7. cmhg2014 says:

    The layoffs are an absolute disgrace!!!! Management continue to enjoy their expensive trips away to the Oscars etc, are flown first class to conferences and stay in luxurious hotels and dine at the finest restaurants, all at the expense of the company. Only last week, whilst hardworking “normal” people were being called in to be informed that their positions were being made redundant, the president of Cartoon Network was parading herself at a conference in Cannes, whilst enjoying the luxury of a hotel room that cost in excess of $1000 a night (all paid for by the company of course) Turner also manages to finance elaborate trips for large numbers of employees to attend conferences nationwide, when in the age of technology such as Skype etc, why do staff need to physically attend such meeting/conferences when they incur such great costs. Also management rather conveniently changed the titles of their own PA’s prior to the layoffs to ensure their exclusion from redundancy…., God Forbid that that management would have to schedule their own meetings!!!! SHAME ON YOU JOHN MARTIN and the entire MANAGEMENT TEAM!!!!!!

  8. The Mentalist still has millions of fans worldwide and if TNT would show it at a better time I’m sure they wouldn’t be disappointed in the ratings. When they were still showing it, it was on at 12:00 and 1:00 a.m. a couple of nights a week and now I can’t find it at all. It’s a shame that CBS and TNT have given up on it, it’s still my favorite show.

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