Paring in Portland

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The mood at KOIN(TV) Portland, Ore., once upbeat about its merger into Indianapolis-based Emmis Communications, turned predictably downbeat with the dismissals of about 20 people. The former Lee stations bought by Emmis last year bore the brunt of the 120 announced cuts, with KOIN the heaviest hit.

"These things are never easy," said General Manager Peter Maroney. Staffers at the station agreed with Maroney's assessment that the terminations were handled about as well and as sympathetically as such situations can be but added that it will be considerably more difficult to realize the employee loyalty on which Emmis prides itself. "That will be a major challenge in the coming year," said a remaining station staffer.

Insiders at former Lee stations absorbed into Emmis said they believed they were already running tight ships, but they were not tight enough for Emmis. "Profit margins have to be high to make these acquisitions work," said one executive.

Maroney and upper management said that layoffs were not anticipated until late February or early March, when budgets were completed. Maroney said the job changes were "more about reallocating resources and making us ready for the future" than saving money.