Black Thursday: Charter, NBCU, Viacom, AT&T Among Latest to Issue Pink Slips
Job losses and streamlining continue across all industries, and cable is no exception. Charter informed employees Wed afternoon that it would realign from 3 divisions (East, West and Central) to 2 operating groups—East and West, Cfaxhas learned. It’s also consolidating some jobs in marketing, HD, finances to form "centralized functional support groups." All told, less than 75 positions (less than 1%) will be eliminated company-wide, said a spokeswoman, who added that some of those impacted may be offered other positions. Among those laid off are svp, HR Lynne Ramsey; svp, consumer marketing Barb Hedges and vp, high-speed Internet product mgmt Himesh Bhise. Central div pres Mary White and West div pres Paula Trustdorf will retire, with East div pres Josh Jamison tapped as pres, East operating group. Charter vp, operations Steve Apodaca will head of the West group. Trustdorf, who came out of retirement last year to lead the West division, will help with the transition. "These changes, all of which are in alignment with the Charter’s strategic priorities to achieve operating efficiencies, support our focus to improve the end-to-end experience for our customers," a spokeswoman said. Charter boosted its sub base to more than 5mln basic customers through acquisitions of independently owned cable systems, which has meant the elimination of hundreds of headends and continuous consolidation over the years. In ’06, it eliminated its Southeast div, going from 4 divisions to 3. Meanwhile, a far greater number of posts will be deleted at AT&T, NBCU and Viacom. The telco plans to excise 12K jobs, or about 4% of its workforce, starting this month and lasting throughout ’09. The news follows AT&T’s Apr announcement of 4.6K layoffs, and the telco also plans to reduce capital spending next year. UBS believes AT&T will trim its capex by at least 10% next year, and that "cuts will likely be most severe in non-Uverse wireline spending, where volumes have taken the largest hit." UBS left unchanged its ‘neutral’ rating on the telco. Viacom has plans to eliminate 850 positions, or 7% of its workforce, and also to suspend senior level management salary increases next year. The moves are part of a restructuring initiative that, including write-downs, will result in a pre-tax charge of $400-$450mln in 4Q. In ’09, the staffing and compensation actions and write-downs are expected to result in pre-tax savings of $200-$250mln. Approx 500 jobs will be eliminated across NBCU, or 3% of the company’s payroll. No specifics were offered concerning affected divisions or nets. The moves are part of the $500mln that CEO Jeff Zucker said NBCU will cut from its’09 budget. "It has become evident that the decline in consumer confidence and spending will impact our operations," said Zucker in Oct.