Comedy Cuts 80 Jobs

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Integrating into Viacom Inc.'s MTV Networks group last week cost Comedy Central 20% of its 360-person staff, with most cuts coming in affiliate sales, legal and operations jobs.

Comedy Central would not disclose names, but industry sources said executive vice president of affiliate relations Brad Samuels was one of the 80 employees let go by Viacom, which in April bought the 50% of Comedy it didn't already own from AOL Time Warner for $1.23 billion.

Samuels declined comment, but sources said he's talking to several cable companies about future opportunities.

An internal memo at Comedy noted that MTV Networks taps a "centralized, strategic services group" that provides legal, human resources, research, information systems, finance and creative services. MTVN networks are "represented to the affiliate community" by a "single" sales and marketing group., it said

"Unfortunately, implementing the integration plan means that some very capable, devoted and hard-working people will be leaving us — people who have made lasting contributions over the years," the memo said.

Sources noted programming, marketing and public relations divisions remained relatively intact. In fact, sources said MTV wants to boost the number of original projects out of Comedy over the next few months.

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