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Paramount lays off more staff, closes MTV News division

The layoffs come as Paramount eases off traditional cable networks with an eye toward streaming as its future.

The layoffs come as Paramount eases off traditional cable networks with an eye toward streaming as its future.

U.S. Senator Rand Paul (right) speaks with an MTV News reporter during an event in 2015. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)
U.S. Senator Rand Paul (right) speaks with an MTV News reporter during an event in 2015. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Paramount Global is shutting down its MTV News division after nearly 40 years in operation, company executives confirmed this week.

The closure of MTV News comes amid broader layoffs at Paramount that will see 25 percent of workers at its cable networks receiving pink slips.

The layoffs were announced by Paramount Media Networks President Chris McCarthy in a company-wide memo sent to workers on Tuesday. In the letter, McCarthy praised the company’s recent success with hit dramas like Paramount Network’s “Yellowstone,” but said more needed to be done to make Paramount a viable contender in the domestic entertainment industry as more consumers shift their attention away from cable networks toward streaming services.

“Despite [our] success in streaming, we continue to feel pressure from broader economic headwinds like many of our peers,” McCarthy wrote in the memo.

McCarthy said the decision to lay off 25 percent of workers at Paramount’s media division followed a strategic review of the company’s operations, with a focus on “the current and future needs of our business.”

“This is a tough yet important strategic realignment of our group,” McCarthy affirmed. “Through the elimination of some units and by streamlining others, we will be able to reduce costs and create a more effective approach to our business as we move forward.”

Paramount began notifying affected employees of the layoffs on Tuesday, and is extending an opportunity for impacted workers to meet with Paramount’s human resources team.

“I realize these decisions will be very hard for everyone, most of all, those who will be leaving,” McCarthy said. “It’s not something we take lightly. We have some of the most passionate and dedicated team members, who bring their full selves to drive our brands and business forward. This is why it’s so difficult to say goodbye to our friends and colleagues.”

The job losses come about four months after Paramount went through a similar round of layoffs, which impacted around 120 marketers, recruiters and other employees at Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and Showtime.

The latest round of job cuts comes as Paramount further consolidates some of its business operations, with McCarthy announcing two new divisions: Studios, which will integrate Showtime and MTV Entertainment Studios into a single unit, and Networks, which will unify Paramount’s various cable channels.

The cable channels that will be grouped into Paramount Networks include Comedy Central, CMT, Logo, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, Pop TV, Smithsonian Channel and TV Land. BET and VH1 are considered part of BET Media, which Paramount is currently trying to sell, according to reports.

MTV will be impacted by the layoffs more than other networks, with the entire MTV News team dissolved by the end of Tuesday. The brand was best known for its “Choose or Lose” campaign, which helped increase voter turnout among young Americans in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Like other media companies, Paramount has struggled to cope with a weakened ad market, the effects of cord-cutting on affiliate revenue and a return on its multi-billion dollar investment in direct-to-consumer streaming services.

To date, Paramount Plus counts more than 60 million subscribers around the world, a metric that has earned the company high praise among analysts, but hasn’t helped Paramount turn a profit.

During a conference call with investors last week, Paramount executives said their investment in streaming content and marketing is expected to peak this year, with the company returning to profitability in 2024.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).