Consolidation Prompts Affiliate-Sales Cuts


Citing industry consolidation, three programmers -- Rainbow Media Group,
Showtime Networks Inc. and A&E Television Networks -- cut back their
affiliate-sales operations, officials confirmed last week.

Rainbow has completed restructuring the four sales forces once employed for
its portfolio of networks, paring them down to two. The company used to have
separate sales staffs dedicated to American Movie Classics and WE: Women's
Entertainment; Bravo and The Independent Film Channel; MuchMusic USA; and its
Mag Rack video-on-demand service.

Rainbow has trimmed those sales forces down to two affiliate teams, a company
spokesman confirmed. The company reportedly was looking to streamline its
affiliate-sales functions and provide better support for its developing
businesses, MuchMusic and Mag Rack.

The Rainbow spokesman confirmed that some affiliate salespeople were let go
under the changes, but declined to say how many. But one source said Rainbow let
go six to eight MuchMusic affiliate salespeople, with the team for AMC and WE
now handling that music service. Mag Rack is now being handled by the
affiliate-sales force for Bravo and IFC.

Showtime Networks Inc. is in the process of closing its Chicago
affiliate-sales office, a spokeswoman for the premium service said.

'Due to consolidation in the cable industry, we are reorganizing our field
sales staff to better respond to our customers' needs,' the Showtime spokeswoman
said. She declined comment on whether staff members from the Chicago office were
being let go.

And A&E Networks has shuttered its Denver affiliate-sales office, a
spokesman said last week. Some salespeople were let go as a result, but he
wouldn't say how many.

Some programmers had kept affiliate-sales offices in Denver because for
years, it had been cable's unofficial capital. Many MSOs, such as AT&T
Broadband and the former Jones Intercable, were headquartered there.

But with MSO consolidation -- particularly the looming AT&T
Broadband-Comcast Corp. merger, which shifts power at that operator to
Philadelphia -- there is no need for a presence in the 'Mile High City'

In fact, one source said, some programmers are considering opening field
offices in Philadelphia, where Comcast is based.