Programming

Freedom Communications Implements Furloughs

Staffers at eight stations told to take five 3/23/2009 08:33:00 AM Eastern

Filed at 12:33 p.m. EST on Mar. 23, 2009

Freedom Communications has announced a company-wide furlough program that will see employees at all levels take five days off of work, without pay, between April 1 and June 30.

"We need to continue to reduce expenses while delivering our valuable products and services to our customers and advertisers," said Freedom CEO Scott Flanders. "Of the many options we considered, a furlough provides the savings we're seeking, while still allowing us to maximize operations."

The furloughs appear to be voluntary for union members and those with a personal services contract, and mandatory for everyone else. Freedom owns eight stations, including WPEC West Palm Beach, and over a hundred newspapers, including the Orange County Register.

Flanders said the company remains in decent financial shape. "Freedom continues to generate positive cash flow, and we see the furlough program as a sound business and financial move to help weather the present severe economic conditions that we believe will improve by year end," he said.

Schenectady's (N.Y) Daily Gazette previously reported the furloughs at Albany's WGRB.

Furloughs are an increasingly popular cost-cutting measure in local television. Gannett employees took a week of unpaid leave in the first quarter, while Media General staffers are taking two weeks off starting this month and ending in September. While employees are hardly ecstatic about the pay cut, most seem to feel it's a better alternative to losing their jobs, or seeing longtime co-workers lose theirs.

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