CBS Drops 125 Employees; ‘Nightwatch’ Hit Hardest

Associated Press

CBS announced the elimination of 125 jobs at the network today, continuing cost-cutting steps begun following its successful billion-dollar campaign to block a takeover by Ted Turner.

The layoffs include several on-air personalities as well as news support staff and even two vice presidents, a spokeswoman said. No anchors were among those laid off.

“This is not a happy day,” said Edward M. Joyce, president of CBS News.

Sources said New York-based correspondent Liz Trotta and Mideast correspondent Larry Pintak were pink-slipped, and two CBS News veterans primarily working in radio--Neil Strawser and Dallas Townsend--decided to take early retirement.

In all, 74 employees got pink slips this morning and 51 positions “now vacant or soon to be vacated by early retirement will not be filled,” according to a memo circulated by Joyce.


“The cuts were across the board,” said Ann Morfogen, director of communications for CBS News. “Every broadcast and every unit is losing people . . . both foreign and domestic” in an effort to streamline operations.

“Nightwatch,” an overnight news show, had more cuts than either the “CBS Evening News” or the “CBS Morning News.” As a result it is changing its format.

“They will not be doing live updates. It will be primarily an interview and feature broadcast,” Morfogen said.

CBS’s new prime-time news magazine, “West 57th,” will continue and is guaranteed 13 more episodes next year, she said.

Two weeks ago, the company offered early retirement to 2,000 employees--roughly 7% of its work force--who are at least 55 and have 10 years’ service with the company. However, CBS will not know until Nov. 1 how many workers will accept the offer to retire by the end of November.

CBS, a broadcast, publishing and record company, has 30,000 employees worldwide, including 1,300 in the network news division.