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Staff Cutbacks Start Hitting Court TV

6/23/2006 8:00 PM Eastern

The first wave of announced cuts resulting from Turner Broadcasting System Inc.’s gaining full control of Court TV came down last Tuesday with around 50 staffers and executives losing their positions.

The impacted departments — either in part or in full — were affiliate relations, corporate communications, finance and accounting, according to cable-network executives familiar with the situation.

Those given the axe received severance packages, while some were offered equivalent posts at Turner’s Atlanta headquarters, but declined to make the transfer from New York. More cuts are expected to be made over the next 60 to 90 days.

Last month, Time Warner paid some $735 million in cash to Liberty Media Corp. to secure the half of the 86-million-subscriber Court TV — which has more than 400 employees — that it didn’t own.

“As anticipated, in the course of integrating Court TV business operations into the Turner Broadcasting organization, we have identified some job redundancies in areas that overlap with existing Turner infrastructure,” Turner said in a statement. “As a result, some Court TV positions are being eliminated. We are working closely with affected employees to provide transition support and resources.”

Some workers packed up their belongings June 20, while others will be clearing out over the next few weeks, according to executives.

Among those caught in the round of cuts are executive vice president of affiliate relations Bob Rose and senior vice president of corporate communications Jennifer Geisser.

Indications are that Rose and his affiliate sales teams will remain until at least next month, with some expected to attend the July 17-19 Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing Summit in Boston.

“Their departures are being staggered a bit. Some will be given a chance to do a little networking in Boston,” one network executive said.

Other departments that could feel the pinch in the months ahead include legal, human resources and information technology.

Advertising sales has remained immune thus far, but that could change shortly. “You won’t see ad sales go until after the upfront business is finished,” an executive said.

Another network executive said senior vice president of marketing Mary Corigliano “has hired a lot more people since she came on board” late in 2004 “There are ties there to the affiliate side as well. As for programming, there could be some minimal reduction over time as shows change.”

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