NBC, VIACOM SWELL JOBLESS LINES
Along with Christmas greetings, hundreds of media workers will find pink slips in their mail during the holiday season. NBC Universal and Viacom each announced huge job cuts that together will put 1,350 employees out of work. While the cuts will eventually result in savings of hundreds of millions of dollars, severance fees and other costs will hit the two companies' fourth-quarter results hard. Viacom said it would reduce its work force by some 7 percent (850 jobs); NBC Universal, 3 percent (500 jobs). "The changes we are making in our organization and processes will better position Viacom to navigate the economic slowdown and generate sizable efficiencies that will help us drive our business as the marketplace stabilizes and conditions improve," Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Daumon said in a statement. Most of Viacom's cuts reportedly will come at MTV Networks (MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1 and Comedy Central.) Paramount will lose about 4 percent of its workforce. Three highly visible NBC News correspondents were among those laid off: John Larson of Dateline NBC, Dallas-based Don Teague, and Beijing-based Mark Mullen. At CNBC, The Big Idea With Donny Deutsch is being shelved."The media is an industry in transition in the midst of a tough slowdown, and there's potential for additional job cuts, but they have to be done without hurting the fabric of these companies," Barrington Research analyst James Goss told today's (Friday) Wall Street Journal. And media analyst Harold Vogel, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, predicted more job cuts in the future. "I don't think there will be a massive wave of more layoffs, but this period of malaise is going to last quite a while. How to save costs is going to be on the front burner for a long time," Vogel said. Meanwhile, the publications that report on the economic downturn are being similarly affected by it. Daily Variety reported today that its rival, The Hollywood Reporter, dropped more than a dozen employees from its editorial staff, including managing editor Harley Lond and lead TV critic Barry Garron.
FOOTBALL COMES TO THE MULTIPLEX -- IN 3-D
In what was described as an experiment, an NFL game was broadcast in 3-D to a theater in Los Angeles, New York and Boston Thursday night, and, except for a few technical glitches, the telecast of the Oakland Raiders/San Diego Chargers contest was regarded as a success by the invited viewers. "Some scenes clearly captured the benefits of 3-D broadcasts," the Associated Press reported, "such as an interception by Chargers linebacker Stephen Cooper as players crisscrossed the field, and a long touchdown catch by San Diego's Vincent Jackson with the arc of the ball caught on camera all the way." The projection systems and other technology used for the telecast was developed by Burbank-based 3ality Digital. Howard Katz, who heads broadcast operations for the NFL, told the Los Angeles Times that there are presently no plans to show NFL games theatrically in 3-D in the near future.
RUDOLPH: LESS GLEE
CBS's annual telecast of Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer won its timeslot Wednesday night, but ratings figures indicate that its nose was not so bright as it has been in previous years. The animated classic saw its audience drop nearly 20 percent from last year, due in large part to a diminished overall audience and competition from a new reality show on Fox, Secret Millionaire, which drew solid ratings in its debut. (Placing second to Rudolph in the first hour, the second hour of Millionaire won its time period.)
ABOUT THOSE RUMORS OF KOPPEL TAKING OVER MEET THE PRESS
Ted Koppel has spiked continued rumors that he is in discussions to take over the job as moderator of Meet the Press. Asked by the website TVNewser whether any overture had been made about his taking over from "interim" moderator Tom Brokaw, Koppel replied, "None in either direction. Not from them to me, not from me to them." When he was asked whether he would have liked to have been offered the job, he responded, "No. To be absolutely honest, my pride would have enjoyed a phone call that I could have turned down [laughs]! It would have been nice for them to say, 'God, Ted, we can't get along without you.' But clearly they can!" As for the current speculation that David Gregory will get the job, Koppel replied, "I think that makes all the sense in the world."
NAMES OF JAILED JOURNALISTS DISCLOSED
The international Committee to Protect Journalists on Thursday released its annual census of imprisoned journalists, noting that 125 of them were behind bars on December 1, two fewer than the number in 2007. An account of the charges against each was also made available online. Fifty-six of the imprisoned journalists distributed their reports online, making them particularly vulnerable, the CPJ observed, noting that most "are not employees of media companies and often do not have the legal resources or political connections that might help them gain their freedom." The CPJ accused the United States of jailing dozens of journalists in Iraq, "some for days, others for months at a time -- without charge or due process. No charges have ever been substantiated in these cases." The U.S. military, it said, is currently holding Reuters news photographer Ibrahim Jassam without charge even though an Iraqi court ruled last month that there was no evidence to hold him and ordered that he be released.