ZUCKER PLANS MAJOR CUTS HOPING TO SAVE MILLIONS
By PETER LAURIA
Sources inside or close to yesterday claimed the cuts, which are expected to come down this week or next, will be weighted evenly between NBC News and . CNBC staffers are being shielded from this round of cuts because Zucker wants the network to be at full strength now that the battle with Fox Business Network has begun. (FBN is owned by ., which also owns The Post.) Among those set to have their jobs eliminated at are two holdovers from previous regimes - head of prime time programming Bill Wolf and Editorial Director Davidson Goldin.
Wolf is a holdover from Rick Kaplan's days with , while Goldin was recruited to the network when Dan Abrams served as general manager. The duo's impending departures follow those of daytime programming Vice President Susan Sullivan and . Bureau Chief Tammy Haddad, both of whom left of their own volition. More telling than the departures themselves, however, is the fact that has no plans to replace any of these positions, according to one company insider.
A second company insider noted that with ratings on the entertainment side of down about 15 percent in November sweeps, an ongoing writer's strike and an anticipated tough economy heading into 2008, the pace and proportion of cuts may accelerate rather than wane after the current round is complete. While she declined to comment on savings targets or specific people, NBC News spokeswoman Allison Gollust said in a statement to The Post that, "There is an ongoing process at NBC News to reallocate, reorganize and right-size the division given the business pressures that every major media organization is facing. This process began some time ago, it continues today, and will continue tomorrow."
Though can't be blamed for responding to competitive pressures, sources said morale at the news division is suffering under the weight of the corporate cuts, which this time around will affect newsgathering, operations and some other areas of the unit. According to one company insider, staffers at the news division, which has already had a round of layoffs, are surprised that they are bearing the brunt of the cuts given that Zucker "grew up" in the unit. "They feel they've been wronged," said another source close to NBC News.
But another source dismissed the grousing by noting that it is precisely because Zucker intimately knows the news division that he feels it can still succeed with less resources. Zucker is keenly aware, however, of how competitive has become with CNN in primetime, at times squeezing past its rival into second place behind in the ratings. And given that primetime is where the money is made, sources said that even though Wolf is headed out the door, MSNBC's primetime programming - i.e., the shows hosted by Chris Matthews, and Dan Abrams, as well as the documentary unit - are sacrosanct and won't be affected by any of the cuts.