Wednesday, December 17, 2008

CBS Is Tops In Ratings For 11th Week In A Row, Fires 30 People In Its Entertainment Division

CBS is tops overall for 11th week in a row

With seven of the 10 most-watched programs, CBS had another dominant week in the ratings, notching its 11th straight weekly victory among total viewers.

Led by "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" (20.9 million), the No. 2 program, CBS carried the week ending Dec. 14 with an average of 11.9 million viewers, according to figures published Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research.

CBS has posted year-to-year ratings gains for five straight weeks, relying on a roster of existing scripted series plus a noteworthy newcomer, the cop drama "The Mentalist." Last week also included the Sunday finale of "Survivor: Gabon" (13.8 million).

The network's strength was not confined to total viewers. Among the ad-friendly demographic of adults aged 18 to 49, CBS had six of the top 10 shows, led by "CSI."

CBS Fires Nearly 30 People in Its Entertainment Division

By Meg James
Los Angeles Times

The media firm is grappling with the deepening recession, which has prompted companies to slash their advertising budgets.

Bracing for continued tough times, CBS Corp. this week became the latest media company to reduce the number of employees in its entertainment division.

CBS fired nearly 30 people, primarily in its network programming but also at its CBS Paramount Network Television production studios in Los Angeles and Studio City, two people close to the network said.

The highest-profile cuts included Maria Crenna, the second in command at CBS Paramount, and Brian Banks, head of comedy development. The New York company declined to specify the number or the percentage of cuts.

"These steps are designed to deploy our resources in line with market conditions, while at the same time making sure that development and production needs are met at the network and the studio -- both now and in the future," CBS said in a statement.

Most media companies are grappling with the deepening recession, which has prompted some of their biggest advertisers, including car companies and retailers, to slash their advertising budgets.

CBS is particularly vulnerable because it derives more than 70% of its revenue from television, radio and billboard advertising.

Robert J. Coen, forecasting director for ad-buying company Magna, predicted last week that advertising spending in the U.S. probably would fall 4.5% in 2009 to $258.7 billion.

"The main source of the advertising slowdown has been drains on consumer spending, slow income growth, high debt and the rise in many consumer expenses," Coen wrote in a report. "There is little likelihood of relief for consumers in 2009."

Last week, NBC combined its TV network and studio operations and laid off about 40 people in Los Angeles as part of NBC Universal's efforts to reduce its budget next year by $500 million. Walt Disney Co. also is considering a workforce reduction and a possible consolidation of its ABC network and TV studio. An ABC spokesman declined to comment.

CBS has no plans to combine its network and studio operations, one executive said.

The layoffs come despite CBS' success in prime time. The network has garnered a growing audience in recent weeks with such popular shows as "Two and a Half Men," "NCIS" and its latest hit drama, "The Mentalist."

Early this year, CBS eliminated several high-profile newscast anchors and workers at its television stations, including KCBS-TV Channel 2 and KCAL-TV Channel 9 in Los Angeles.

"Until automotive, retail and financial services get stronger, the TV stations are going to be challenged," CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves said last week.

"Those are three of our most important categories, probably, with automotive at the top," he said.

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