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CNN Begins Layoffs, Chris Licht Memo Predicts ‘Difficult Time for Everyone’

The Warner Bros. Discovery-owned channel is the latest company to undergo layoffs as recession fears loom.

CNN boss Chris Licht

CNN boss Chris Licht

Getty Images

CNN will begin laying off employees on Wednesday and Thursday, according to a staff-wide memo sent out on Wednesday.

In the memo, which was obtained by IndieWire and can be read below, the channel’s CEO Chris Licht said those affected by the layoffs will be contacted over the next two days, and the rest of the staff will receive communication on who has been let go on Thursday.

“Our people are the heart and soul of this organization. It is incredibly hard to say goodbye to any one member of the CNN team, much less many. I recently described this process as a gut punch, because I know that is how it feels for all of us,” Licht wrote in his memo. “It will be a difficult time for everyone.”

These layoffs come a month after Licht sent a company-wide memo foreshadowing restructuring at CNN, writing that the expected recession will mean “noticeable change to this organization” that “affect people, budgets, and projects.” The news and ratings trends were both downers: Q3 was the cable channel’s lowest-rated among adults 25-54 since the second quarter of 2012, according to Nielsen data, and CNN’s least-watched quarter overall since Q2 2015. In the month since his first memo, Licht has announced changes to CNN’s content strategy, including a shift away from buying original documentaries and TV series for the channel’s programming.

CNN isn’t the first (or second, or third, or fourth, or…) company to begin layoffs this fall as fears of a recession increase. AMC Networks, Criterion, and Nexstar have all announced or instituted layoffs, while Disney has begun a targeted hiring freeze to save costs. In addition, CNN is a division of Warner Bros. Discovery, which has already laid off a significant number of staffers from its sports, animation, and television departments. CEO David Zaslav intends to cut spending at the company by $3 billion to alleviate the massive debts it accrued after forming via merger this April.

Read Licht’s memo below.

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 07: David Zaslav, NRDC Co-Chair attends NRDC honors Julia Louis-Dreyfus at "Night Of Comedy" benefit at NeueHouse Los Angeles on June 07, 2022 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/FilmMagic)

Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav

Eckenroth/FilmMagic

To my CNN colleagues,

Our people are the heart and soul of this organization. It is incredibly hard to say goodbye to any one member of the CNN team, much less many. I recently described this process as a gut punch, because I know that is how it feels for all of us.

Today we will notify a limited number of individuals, largely some of our paid contributors, as part of a recalibrated reporting strategy. Tomorrow, we will notify impacted employees, and tomorrow afternoon I will follow up with more details on these changes.

It will be a difficult time for everyone. If your job has been impacted, you will learn more through an in-person meeting or via Zoom, depending on your location. In those meetings, you will receive information specific to you about notice period or any severance that would apply, and your anticipated last day. I want to be clear that everyone who is bonus eligible will still receive their 2022 bonuses, which are determined by company performance.

I know these changes affect both our departing colleagues and those who remain, and we have resources designed to support you. I will include a link to those resources in my follow up email tomorrow.

Let’s take care of each other this week.

Chris

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