Layoffs at CBS O&Os


Staff cutbacks have been reported at CBS O&O stations all across the country, with both on-air and behind the scenes folks getting pink-slipped. The biggest cuts appear to have been in Boston, where the Boston Herald reports that 30 people were sacked at the WBZ/WSBK duop on Monday.

Of on-air staffers let go, one of the highest profile anchors was Diann Burns at WBBM-TV Chicago, who had been lured away from rival ABC O&O WLS-TV in 2003. According to Chicago Sun Times columnist Robert Feder, she was believed to be the highest paid news personality ever in Chicago, with a five-year contract reportedly worth 10 million bucks. It was no surprise that her contract would not be renewed, but she was released from WBBM seven months early. The Sun Times said at least 16 other staffers were also cut Monday.

There were cutbacks as well at WCBS-TV New York, with the Daily News reporting that two veteran on-air reporters were among those cut. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that four on-air reporters and an unspecified number of other staffers were laid off Monday at KPIX-TV San Francisco. The Sacramento Bee says two on-air reporters were pink-slipped at KOVR-TV Sacramento, along with an unknown number of off-air employees.

The round of layoffs at CBS O&Os began last week. The Miami Herald reported that about 10 people were pink-slipped at WFOR-TV Miami and the Denver Post reported that six newsroom employees, mostly off-air, were laid off at KCNC-TV Denver.

A CBS spokesman told RBR/TVBR the company had no comment.

RBR/TVBR observation: Disheartening for staffers, to be sure, but hardly surprising in the current economy. Political revenues won’t really kick in until the second half of this year and, even then, CBS has to look at what its overhead should be at local stations for 2009, without those campaign dollars. Lots of other broadcasters have also made cuts. Indeed, CBS had made cuts before, just not at so many stations at one time. And it’s not just this industry. Layoffs are happening everywhere. Lets just hope that this downturn ends soon and we can move into a rip-roaring recovery.