Friday, December 12, 2008

A&E Has Great Year, Still Has Layoffs

by Michael Learmonth
Advertising Age

Even Strong Players Ready for a Rough Ride in '09

NEW YORK ( -- How bad is it in media? Even companies having a great year are shedding staff as they gird for what's around the corner. A&E Television Networks, home of A&E, History and the Biography Channel and, of course, "Ice Road Truckers," laid off 20 workers last week.

About half of the staff let go were freelancers working across the company; the others were permanent staffers largely from AETN's digital-media division.

That's not many in the grand scheme, particularly since AETN employs 650 across all three cable networks, but it's noteworthy considering AETN actually had a pretty good year.

"We're looking at ways to operate more efficiently, and looking to make the appropriate cuts for next year," said spokesman Michael Feeney.

Up from last year
Through 2008, A&E was the fifth-ranked cable network by adults 25-54, up from sixth last year, and is sixth among viewers 18-49, up from eighth place last year.

The company, a joint venture between Hearst Corp., Disney-ABC Television Group, and NBC Universal, is set to earn $1.4 billion from advertising, affiliate fees and international in 2008, a 7% increase from 2007, according to one insider.

In recent months, A&E has Dell by co-creating new reality shows for brands such as Dell and State Farm.

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