Discovery Cuts 200 Jobs

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Several days after talking up green, pink is the color of the day at Discovery Communications.

The Silver Spring, Md.-based programmer is in the process of laying off as many as 200 workers Monday, according to sources at the company. The cuts, ranging across many units -- first reported by Broadcasting & Cable, a sister publication to Multichannel News -- represent about 3% of Discovery’s 5,000-person global work force.

Layoffs are expected to encompass personnel at the programmer’s U.S. networks, including flagship Discovery Channel and Animal Planet; the Discovery Studios unit, which will shed some production personnel; and the corporate-services group, housing international operation workers, administrative staffers and some public-relations personnel.

Discovery Education -- which already lost staffers in December, shortly after David Zaslav was named CEO in November -- is taking another hit Monday, according to sources familiar with the personnel decisions.

The staff reductions represent the second phase of a restructuring under Zaslav. In an early February reorganization, former Discovery Networks president Billy Campbell -- who was a candidate to get the gig vacated by Judith McHale -- was let go. Other senior executives who didn’t survive the change: Animal Planet head Maureen Smith; Discovery Networks International president Dawn McCall; and Discovery Communications senior vice president of human resources Pandit Wright.

It’s likely that more layoffs are in the offing. TLC was spared of any immediate losses, as the network searches for a new general manager. David Abraham -- who took a job as programming chief in the United Kingdom -- spent his last day at Discovery speaking at the company’s upfront presentation to advertisers in New York last Thursday, the same day Zaslav announced the PlanetGreen initiative, which will result in the conversion of Discovery Home Channel to a dedicated ecologically oriented service next year.

The company’s commerce division, which houses its Discovery Stores operation, has not yet been impacted. The retail operation, which currently counts about 100 locations, is under strategic review.

“Today is the second phase of a detailed reorganization of Discovery and is designed to build an aggressive organization that is able to take advantage of new opportunities across television and digital platforms,” Discovery executive vice president of corporate affairs and communications David Leavy said in a prepared statement.

“The savings accrued from today's actions are not intended to drop to the bottom line,” he added. “We will be investing back in original programming, the marketing of our brands and digital-media extensions.”

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