Job Security No Laughing Matter - Multichannel

Job Security No Laughing Matter

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After watching Viacom Inc. slice through Black Entertainment Television's
ranks in 2001, the media giant's $1.23 billion cash acquisition of AOL Time
Warner Inc.'s 50 percent stake in Comedy Central could unnerve Comedy
employees.

MTV Networks CEO Tom Freston wouldn't discuss possible layoffs Tuesday, but
he did emphasize that the various MTV networks are run autonomously.

"There's going to be some changes, yes, but they're also coming into a
company that's a growing company, and there's lots of other opportunities in the
company. [Comedy executives] may end up working for other networks," Freston
said.

Viacom president Mel Karmazin hinted at changes in Comedy's
affiliate-relations division.

"Comedy Central was operating an independent affiliate-relations department
... even though it had two strong owners," Karmazin said. "Now they will be part
of Viacom, and we expect to see advantages there."

Freston met with Comedy executives Tuesday. "My message to them was, `We love
you. We love Comedy Central.' And it's hard to think of two companies that are
more similar or do the same thing in such a like way than the MTV Networks and
Comedy Central," Freston said.

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