Local NBC stations begin issuing pink slips

(Image: NBC/Handout, Graphic: The Desk)

Workers at NBC-owned local stations are receiving pink slips as part of a broader corporate restructuring at NBC properties.

Employees at NBC stations in Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas and Washington, D.C. were among those laid off this week. In California, several employees at local stations in Los Angeles (KNBC, Channel 4), San Jose (KNTV, Channel 11) and San Diego were also given pink slips.

On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal’s Joe Flint said NBC planned to reduce its workforce by up to 10 percent. Across all properties, NBC has around 35,000 employees, meaning up to 3,500 jobs could be lost by the time the company is done with its layoff campaign.

Layoffs are not unheard of at NBC — the so-called Peacock Network reduces its technical and operational support staff through voluntary buyouts every year. But the magnitude and force of this year’s layoffs is unusual for the entertainment company.

Comcast, the parent company of NBC, has warned that a significant drop in commercial ad revenue across its media properties would likely lead to job cuts throughout NBC. Comcast said a decline in ad revenue was partially responsible for a 25 percent drop in revenue to $6.1 billion last quarter.

In addition to the broadcast network, Comcast owns several pay-TV channels (E!, Bravo, MSNBC, CNBC, NBC Sports Network), Universal Studios, Universal theme parks and satellite TV companies in the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy. Comcast also operates more than a half-dozen regional NBC Sports-branded cable channels as well as New England Cable News (NECN) and SportsNet New York.

Comcast’s foreign broadcast and domestic streaming properties are expected to be mostly insulated from the layoffs, according to people familiar with the company’s plans, with traditional linear services like broadcast television, cable networks and NBC’s news divisions bearing the brunt of the job cuts.

A small handful of production staff who are shown the door have been or will be offered opportunities to apply for open positions at other Comcast-owned properties including Peacock, NBC News Now and NBC LX, according to a source who spoke on background.

That offer is not being extended to NBC anchors, reporters and other on-air and behind-the-scenes talent at local stations, even in markets like Los Angeles and New York City where NBC’s national and international products are housed alongside its local broadcast stations, the source said.