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Time Warner layoffs continue; HBO to cut 150

Time Warner layoffs continue; HBO to cut 150
HBO, a unit of Time Warner, is reducing its workforce by about 7%. HBO produces such shows as "Game of Thrones," pictured here with Peter Dinklage. (Neil Davidson / HBO)

Premium channel HBO this week plans to lay off approximately 150 people, which is nearly 7% of the Time Warner Inc. unit's workforce.

The cuts are part of a Time Warner initiative to reduce its headcount companywide in order to bolster its bottom line and free up dollars to invest in original programming.

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HBO employees in New York and Los Angeles will be affected.

HBO is the smallest of Time Warner's three divisions, and thus it had fewer job eliminations than the larger business units.

Companywide, Time Warner is expected to shed about 2,600 positions -- or about 10% of its workforce -- by the end of November.

Turner Broadcasting, which includes CNN, TNT, TBS and Cartoon Network, already had announced that it would cut 1,475 positions. Turner has more than 13,000 employees worldwide.

Burbank-based Warner Bros. is expected to trim approximately 1,000 positions as it prepares to slash its budget by $200 million.  Warner Bros. has about 8,000 employees.

Warner Bros. is Hollywood's largest film and television production studio. It is coming off a tough summer at the box office.

HBO Chief Executive Richard Plepler notified his staff of the looming layoffs in an email nearly two weeks ago. The job cuts are being made this week.

"We have a long history of tightly managing our overhead so that we're able to maximize investment in the creation, distribution and marketing of content," Plepler wrote in his Oct. 15 email to staff, which was reviewed by The Times.

"We also shift resources when necessary toward areas with the greatest potential to drive revenue growth and to enhance our brand," Plepler said. "We reviewed 2015 budgets and staffing plans with this in mind and reduced cost and redundancy wherever possible to preserve our ability to invest in our future. This will unfortunately include the elimination of some positions."

HBO, also on Oct. 15, generated global headlines when it said that next year it would begin offering a stand-alone streaming service -- an effort to entice people who live in the more than 10 million homes in the U.S. that have high-speed Internet service but not a pay-TV subscription.

The HBO job cuts were first reported by Variety.

Time Warner's cost-cutting comes five months after Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox made an unsolicited $80-billion bid to buy the company.

Murdoch has since withdrawn the offer, but his company said at the time that combining two of the world's largest media conglomerates would benefit investors with improved efficiencies.

Twitter: @MegJamesLAT

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