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Viacom Cuts Comedy Staff, Merges Units

June 26, 2003|From Bloomberg News

Viacom Inc. is firing about 80 employees at its Comedy Central cable television network, or more than 20% of the total, as the third-biggest U.S. media company folds the channel into its MTV Networks cable unit.

Some workers at Comedy Central, the New York unit known for shows such as "South Park," have been moved to jobs within the MTV unit, which includes the VH1 and Nickelodeon cable channels, according to a one-page e-mail memo obtained by Bloomberg News.

MTV Networks Group President Judy McGrath and Comedy Central President Larry Divney sent the memo to employees Tuesday.

New York-based Viacom paid about $1.23 billion in cash last month to buy the half of Comedy Central it didn't already own from AOL Time Warner Inc. Viacom said in May that Comedy Central, which reaches 82 million U.S. households, will add to its profit in the next 12 months.

Viacom's Class B shares fell 80 cents to $43.95 on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday. The stock has risen 9.5% this year.

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