85 at ABC News to take buyouts

Sources: Additional 20-30 to be laid off in coming weeks

About 85 ABC News employees will take buyouts at the end of this week as part of a program to trim the company payroll by 10%.

Altogether, ABC News is cutting about 125 jobs as part of a broad effort mandated by parent Walt Disney Co.

Disney announced in March that it would eliminate some 4,000 jobs companywide.

Over the past two weeks, about 85 ABC News employees were informed that they were approved to receive the buyout offers. Another 20-30 people will be laid off in the coming weeks, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Between those cuts, attrition and elimination of open positions, a total of 125 jobs will be cut from ABC News’ workforce of 1,200.

ABC News spokesman Jeff Schneider declined to comment about the cuts, which come as the division suffered embarrassment with its announcement that it would suspend newsmagazine “20/20” this fall to make room for a drama series produced by Disney, “Once and Again.”

David Tabacoff, an executive producer for one of the “20/20” editions, was among those accepting the buyout offer. He will take a position at Fox News Channel working for Bill O’Reilly.

NBC also announced plans to lay off staff in January, saying it would eliminate up to 600 jobs because of the poor economic climate. NBC also shut down its Internet subsidiary and laid off most of the staff there.

CBS has not announced any job cuts. Already hit by an advertising slowdown, major TV networks have been bracing for poor pre-season sales of commercial time for their fall shows. Advance sales have just begun after the networks recently presented their new lineups to advertisers.