Fox Starts Buyouts at Ad Sales Unit - Broadcasting & Cable

Fox Starts Buyouts at Ad Sales Unit

Cutbacks follow plans to consolidate domestic broadcast and cable sales
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Fox has begun a round of voluntary buyouts for domestic ad sales staffers and further layoffs may be ahead.

Plans to consolidate Fox’s broadcast network and cable network ad sales units were announced last month and the restructuring will result in some job duplications and redundancies.

The buyouts were offered to employees 55 and older with 15 years of service at Fox. About 40 people are affected, sources said. It was unclear how many people would ultimately lose their jobs as a result of the realignment.

“As previously announced, we have combined our sales groups to better serve our ad partners. As part of this process some eligible employees have been offered early retirement packages,” a Fox spokesman said. “We are also reviewing our overall resources to best position our sales organization going forward.”

The new combined structure will be run by Toby Byrne, who becomes president of advertising sales for the Fox Networks. Byrne had been president for ad sales at the Fox Broadcasting, where ratings and ad revenues have been declining because of the decaying performance of the primetime schedule, particularly one-time powerhouse American Idol.

Fox announced that Lou LaTorre, president of sales for Fox Cable, will be Byrne’s number two, responsible for most of the day-to-day operations.

Byrne is expected to set a longer-term strategy for maintaining ad revenue at a time when more marketers appear to shifting ad dollars from TV to digital outlets.

At other media companies an ad revenue slowdown has contributed to rounds of buyouts, staff reductions and other cost cutting.

Time Warner, which rebuffed a takeover bid by Fox parent 21st Century Fox this summer, has made significant staff cuts at its Turner Broadcasting, Warner Bros. and HBO units.

Scripps Networks Interactive announced staff cutbacks this week following a round of voluntary buyouts.

AMC Networks said it would be cutting back, and layoffs took place at The Weather Channel.

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