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Viacom Initiates Layoffs in Cost-Cutting Move

Viacom has initiated a round of layoffs, part of a cost-cutting move anticipated since late last year.

It is believed that fewer than 100 employees will be impacted by the layoffs, which will affect multiple divisions of the company. Reductions will be focused on support employees and not those directly involved in content creation.

“[It’s] very important to understand how purposeful our changes have been,” Viacom CEO Bob Bakish said in a memo to employees Tuesday. “It isn’t just about cutting costs – although we want savings, too, and more flexibility to invest in new areas. These moves are really about our continued efforts to create a more agile and efficient organization that can thrive in a time of constant change.”

Bakish signaled in the company’s last earnings call in November that Viacom was looking at some cost-cutting efforts. The affected employees represent fewer than 1% of Viacom’s total staff of 10,000.

Viacom is set to report third-quarter earnings on Thursday.

The staff reductions come almost exactly one year after Bakish unveiled an ambitious reorganization plan for Viacom, home to cable brands such as Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, MTV, and VH1, as well as the Paramount Pictures film studio. A significant element of the revamp plan came to fruition last month with the relaunch of cable channel Spike TV as Paramount Network, which Viacom has attempted to position a platform for premium scripted programming with new shows such as “Waco” and “Yellowstone.”

Bakish was named CEO in December, 2016, following the ouster of former embattled top executive Philippe Dauman amid a power struggle for control of ailing mogul Sumner Redstone’s media empire. Viacom and CBS Corp., both controlled by Redstone’s National Amusements, recently acknowledged that they are exploring the possibility of merger — the latest development in an on-again, off again process that began shortly after Redstone’s daughter Shari Redstone gained effective control over her father’s companies.

Read the full memo from Bakish below:

Team,

I know there’s been a lot of news in the past week – over the last year, in fact – about change (or potential change) in this company. I think it’s important to remember that so much of this change, while not always easy, has made us stronger. We’ve brought in new talent, re-energized our brands, rebuilt relationships – both inside these walls and out – and taken many other steps to strengthen and evolve our company for the future.

And, yes, sometimes change means making tough decisions – like today, where we made some changes across the organization. While these changes didn’t impact a large percentage of our workforce, I know they were difficult nonetheless. We are saying goodbye to some great team members, some of whom have been here for a long time, and have made an important impact on this organization. We’re so grateful for their contributions, and want to assure you we’re taking many steps to make their transitions easier.

It’s also very important to understand how purposeful our changes have been. It isn’t just about cutting costs – although we want savings, too, and more flexibility to invest in new areas. These moves are really about our continued efforts to create a more agile and efficient organization that can thrive in a time of constant change. I’ll be giving you more context around all of this in our Bob Live on Thursday, and can take any questions you have.

I’m so proud of all we’ve accomplished over the past year, and couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity the change in our industry creates. I want us to be an organization that is energized by reinventing this business, and has the capability and capacity to constantly transform. Let’s continually push ourselves to discover what’s new, and what’s next. Let’s get out of our silos and learn from each other, and create the new faster. Let’s embrace change and possibility.

Thank you for supporting each other through this process, and for your continued focus in driving us forward.

Best,
Bob

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