Media General Cuts 130

Troubled broadcaster resorts to heavy layoffs

First it suspended matching 401k contributions, then mandated two weeks of furloughs. Now Media General has resorted to heavy layoffs across its stations. The company has eliminated 130 positions. A reported 25-plus were cut at WNCN Raleigh, a dozen more at WJAR Providence, and 53 were laid off at Media General's TV-newspaper collective in Tampa, known as the Florida Communications Group, which also eliminated another 12 positions.

The layoffs are across all departments and "nearly all" stations, says a spokesperson. The cuts at news powerhouse WJAR included anchors and the news director, Betty Jo Cugini.

WJAR said the following on its Website:

"NBC 10 continues to face unprecedented economic challenges during this prolonged recession. We continue to experience weak spending, order cancellations and significant non-returning business by our advertisers. In order to continue efforts to adapt our operations to changing customers, we are reducing our workforce.

"We very much regret having to take this step," said Lisa Churchville, General Manager of NBC10. "The regional economy continues to contract. Both businesses and consumers continue to reduce spending and our advertising revenues have been adversely affected at unprecedented levels. We must continue to find ways to align our costs with the available revenue."

The company would not say whether further workforce disruptions would occur. "Everything really depends on the business outlook going forward," says the spokesperson.

Media General owns 19 TV stations and over 300 newspapers.