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ViacomCBS issues pink slips before Red Ventures acquisition

The media company is laying off dozens of workers at CNET, Gamespot and other digital properties.

The media company is laying off dozens of workers at CNET, Gamespot and other digital properties.

The logo of media company ViacomCBS.
The logo of media company ViacomCBS. (Image: ViacomCBS/Handout, Graphic: The Desk)

ViacomCBS is issuing layoff notices to dozens of workers who work for the company’s digital media websites, including its technology news publication CNET.

The move comes less than a month after the media giant agreed to sell CNET and other digital websites to North Carolina-based marketing firm Red Ventures.

Workers at the websites began receiving layoff notices on Thursday, according to multiple sources who spoke with The Desk on condition of anonymity.

One source familiar with the matter said between 50 and 100 employees are expected to receive layoff notices by the end of next week. Affected employees include staff writers who are tasked with creating editorial content for ViacomCBS’ various digital properties.

A ViacomCBS spokesperson has not yet returned a request for comment.

In September, Red Ventures agreed to acquire CNET Media Group and its websites — including Gamespot, TV Guide, Metacritic and ZDNet — for $500 million. The company currently operates Healthline, Cord Cutters News, The Points Guys, and and has a history of acquiring news websites and relaunching them into marketing blogs with a primary mission of selling goods and services to consumers under the guise of journalism.

In a statement, a Red Ventures spokesperson said the company expects to “retain a vast majority of CNET Media Group employee and assets under the Red Ventures business umbrella.”

“The deal has not closed, and to protect the privacy of our employees we cannot release additional information,” the spokesperson said.

This post has been updated to clarify the number of employees who are expected to receive layoff notices based on information provided by a source.

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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).