CNN slashes prod’n staff in Hong Kong

Layoffs in London expected to follow

HONG KONG — As the result of a networkwide reorganization effort to slash costs, CNN Intl. has greatly reduced its production staff in Hong Kong.

Under CNN’s recently announced “global restructuring plan,” daily news production will be centralized and done mostly out of Atlanta and London. Insiders say the network laid off about a dozen full-time staffers (including writers, copy editors, line producers and associate producers) and about 10 freelancers in Hong Kong.

“It was a bloodletting by Hong Kong standards,” said one insider.

“This is a redeployment of resources,” said Carol Turner, a spokeswoman at CNN Intl. Asia Pacific. “Because of the way the shows are now formatted, we don’t need so many people, and some jobs have been eliminated.”

Turner insists that there were less than 10 staffers let go and says she doesn’t know the number of laid-off freelancers.

CNN is not leaving Hong Kong, however. There will still be 3½ hours of programming in the morning and two one-hour programs in the evening. As of March 1, the morning show will be called “CNN Today” and the evening program will go by the name “World New Asia.” The anchors will remain in a Hong Kong studio, although they will read scripts written by the Atlanta and London bureaus.

Turner says Hong Kong will still produce its weekly program “Talk Asia.”

The new plan brought changes across the entire network. On Thursday the network let go of about 20 staffers in Atlanta. An insider expects announcements of layoffs in London and at Cnn.com in Atlanta to follow.