ViacomCBS is slashing an additional 400 jobs as the broadcasting giant continues to search for cost savings from last year’s merger of CBS and Viacom even as it struggles to shore up losses from the coronavirus pandemic.
The layoffs, which kicked off this week, primarily took place at CBS’ entertainment, news, studio, sports and local news divisions, according to sources.
A rep from CBS did not comment.
ViacomCBS has undergone several rounds of layoffs since the merger closed in December. Those cuts primarily hit administrative and back-office divisions in an effort to eliminate duplication. This week’s cuts are the first layoffs on the broadcast side, although a number of executives have departed since the merger.
Last month, ViacomCBS laid off 100 employees in the marketing divisions, as well as at MTV News, Paramount Network, Nickelodeon and “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
News of the latest round trickled out late Wednesday, after CBS Chief Executive Officer George Cheeks circulated a memo, in which he wrote: “we are in the process of restructuring various operations, and unfortunately, this means there are layoffs.”
He continued: “the ongoing and transformative changes happening in the media business, as well as circumstances from the unprecedented pandemic that we continue to navigate.”
ViacomCBS has targeted $750 million in annualized run rate synergies over the next three years, including $250 million in 2020.
CBS News staffers were among the casualties, losing about 50 staffers, according to The Hollywood Reporter, citing anonymous sources.
CBS News president Susan Zirinsky circulated a memo to staff Wednesday, expressing her regrets, as the pandemic has squeezed advertising revenue.
“These decisions are particularly painful for our entire organization, which has performed at the highest level during the COVID-19 pandemic, overcoming so many obstacles,” Zirinsky wrote. “But this restructuring is necessary to ensure CBS News remains strong long into the future.”