EXCLUSIVE, updated with CBS Statement: ViacomCBS has initiated a new round of post-merger layoffs across all parts of the company, which are impacting primarily the divisions within the CBS Entertainment Group, I have learned. After a couple of CBS Entertainment employees received word Tuesday night, the bulk of the cuts are being made today, I hear. Notifications in New York began this morning.
“We are restructuring various operations at CBS as part our ongoing integration with Viacom, and to adapt to changes in our business, including those related to COVID-19,” a CBS spokesperson said in a statement. “Our thoughts today are with our departing colleagues for their friendship, service and many important contributions to CBS.”
The headcount reductions at the CBS-branded companies come a month after ViacomCBS’ basic cable networks’ saw dozens of exits, including senior executives, led by Smithsonian Networks President Tom Hayden and Sarah Babineau, Head of Comedy Central Content & Creative Enterprises. Senior executive departures within the CBS Entertainment Group, including at SVP level, are expected.
UPDATE: by midday Wednesday, names of executives impacted by the layoffs started to emerge. The list includes CBS Entertainment’s Gary Silver, EVP Business Affairs, and Edy Mendoza, SVP Comedy Development, as well as CBS TV Studios’ Matt Skrobalak, SVP Talent & Casting. Read Deadline’s story for more.
The initial round of ViacomCBS cuts came immediately after the merger closed in early December. In late February, Deadline reported that ViacomCBS had started to lay off a number of people across the combined organization for an estimated combined headcount reduction of about 100 in February-March. The process was largely paused in mid-March when the coronavirus pandemic hit, until the sweeping layoffs in the cable divisions last month.
So far, aside from Pop and Smithsonian, now part of the Viacom suite of ad-supported networks, the CBS side of the combined company had been largely spared from cuts except for a few layoffs in sales and marketing/publicity and some done as part of the restructuring of the international operations.
In a memo to staff the morning before the cable layoffs last month, ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish wrote about the company’s continuing efforts “to integrate and streamline our operations, manage our costs as diligently as we can, and follow through on our committed post-merger synergy targets.” ViacomCBS has targeted $750 million in cost synergies.