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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.

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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.

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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.


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