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Inside Move

Nets pinching their pennies

It’s penny-pinching time at the broadcast webs as sticker shock from football and other program cost increases sets in. CBS, ABC and Fox are all taking steps to lower head count through attrition or more drastic means.

ABC is reducing its program development budget, sources say, and the shift of many corporate jobs from New York to Los Angeles may be designed, in part, to weed out some expensive senior executives who don’t want to make the cross-country move. At ABC’s Gotham headquarters, the corporate belt-tightening is the conversation topic of choice among many of the rank and file.

One Alphabet insider said the web’s already tight-fisted expense account managers have become even more stingy in recent months. “Cabs and meals that normally would have been approved are coming back with notes saying, ‘We won’t pay for this,'” the ABC employee sighed.

ABC News staffers, who’ve already seen several bureaus shut down in recent months, are bracing for more trims. Many expect the web to pull the plug on the low-rated Sunday edition of “Good Morning America,”‘ though no final decision on that has been made.

Likewise at CBS, one source said some employees are being told not to tip more than 15% at business meals, and the Eye web earlier cut back on the network’s retirement matching funds. Ironically, human resources is one department at CBS being targeted for harsh cutbacks.

One other cost-cutting measure: All the webs are trimming the annual summer Television Critics Assn. press tour from three days per network to two.