NBC RADIO FIRES 25 IN FACE OF SALE
Twenty-five NBC Radio network employees are being fired as a consequence of the network’s sale to Westwood One Inc. of Los Angeles, NBC officials said Tuesday.
The dismissals were made after consultation with Westwood One “and in anticipation” of the completion of the network’s sale to that company, NBC spokeswoman Kathy Lehrfeld said. The deal became final Tuesday.
All those being dismissed are getting severance pay and, in the case of six affected news correspondents, their contracts are being paid off, officials said. The news staffers include Russ Ward, a 34-year NBC News veteran who worked in Washington.
Ward was not immediately available for comment.
The other correspondents being laid off, Lehrfeld said, are Mike Maus, based here; Dan Blackburn in Los Angeles, and David Rush, Peter Laufer and Cliff Webb in Washington.
The balance of the other 19 dismissed employees worked in non-news areas--14 of them in sales.
NBC, taken over last year by General Electric, announced on July 20 that it would sell its 61-year-old NBC Radio network and two other radio networks it owns, the Source and Talknet, to Westwood One for $50 million.
The NBC Radio network’s remaining staff members in the United States, including 30 news personnel, remained with the network as ownership changed, said James Farley, a vice president at NBC Radio News.
Farley, who joined them in the shift to Westwood One, said that the operation will no longer be run by NBC News nor will it be a division of NBC. However, although owned by Westwood One, the network still will call itself the NBC Radio network and will still identify its news reports as from NBC Radio News.
“We’ll have access to NBC News material, be sharing facilities, and many of their (NBC News) correspondents will be filing radio reports, and we’ll be getting actualities (recordings of interviews) from NBC News,” he said.
“There’s a strong continuing relationship. It’s just not ownership anymore.”
The Westwood One deal left unresolved the future of about 100 technicians and off-air news staffers who worked for the NBC radio operations but who, with 2,700 other colleagues in the National Assn. of Broadcast Employees and Technicians, struck NBC on June 29.
According to an NBC spokeswoman, the future of the NBC Radio staffers was the only item discussed Tuesday in Washington, where union and network negotiators held their first face-to-face bargaining session on a new contract since a fruitless July 23 meeting here.
The session, held with a federal mediator, lasted 3 1/2 hours. Another was scheduled for today.
NABET’s walkout, the longest in its history at NBC, began after the company implemented a two-year contract that the union’s negotiators previously had rejected.
In a taped phone message to members, Art Kent, head of NABET Local 11 in New York, expressed hope that this week’s negotiations will result in what the union feels is an “acceptable contract.” Another major broadcast union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, starts negotiations Monday with CBS in Phoenix.
That labor group says it has 1,600 members at CBS. Their ranks, like those of NABET at NBC, include camera operators and videotape editors working in news, entertainment and sports.
IBEW’s current three-year contract with CBS expires Sept. 30. It last struck the company in a 1972 walkout that lasted eight weeks.