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Network Cuts 125 News Jobs

September 19, 1985

NEW YORK (AP) _ CBS announced the elimination of 125 news jobs at the network Thursday, continuing cost-cutting steps begun following its successful billion-dollar campaign to block a takeover by Ted Turner.

The layoffs include several on-air personalities as well as news support staff and even two vice presidents, a spokeswoman said. No anchors were among those laid off.

″This is not a happy day,″ said Edward M. Joyce, president of CBS News.

In all, 74 employees got pink slips Thursday morning and another 51 positions ″now vacant or soon to be vacated by early retirement, will not be filled,″ according to a memo circulated by Joyce.

″The cuts were across the board,″ said Ann Morfogen, director of communications for CBS News. ″Every broadcast and every unit is losing people ... both foreign and domestic″ in an effort to streamline operations.

″Nightwatch,″ an overnight news show, had more cuts than either the ″CBS Evening News″ or the ″CBS Morning News.″ As a result it is changing its format.

″They will not be doing live updates. It will be primarily an interview and feature broadcast,″ Ms. Morfogen said.

CBS’s new prime-time news magazine, ″West 57th,″ will continue and is guaranteed 13 more episodes next year, she said.

Two weeks ago, the company offered early retirement to 2,000 employees - roughly 7 percent of its workforce - who are at least 55 years old and have 10 years service with the company. However, CBS won’t know until Nov. 1 how many workers will accept the offer to retire by the end of November.

CBS Inc., a broadcast, publishing and record company, has 30,000 employees worldwide, including 1,300 in the network news division.

In his memo, Joyce said, ″It is my painful duty to share with you today a decision which is as necessary as it is agonizing.″ He said there was no alternative to the layoffs, which he called ″vital to the future strength and viability of CBS News.″

The layoffs were the result, he said, of ″a number of unanticipated, adverse financial circumstances, many of which you already know.″

CBS repurchased 21 percent of its stock for $150 a share, or almost $1 billion, after Turner bid more than $5 billion in stock and other securities for the company.

In addition to the stock repurchase, Joyce cited ″a listless economy and a marked softness in the advertising marketplace.″

The two senior CBS employees who were laid off were Casey Davidson, vice president for labor affairs and Ralph Goldberg, vice president and assistant to the president of CBS News.

Ms. Morfogen noted that the positions were eliminated, and added, ″They may be able to find themselves other positions at CBS.″

Longtime CBS radio correspondent Neil Strawser is taking early retirement as is Don Richardson, executive assistant to the director of news.

Newsman Charles Osgood, who had been wooed by ABC, has agreed to remain at CBS News, Ms. Morfogen said.

In August, American Broadcasting Cos. laid off 350 employees and eliminated 265 vacant positions, bringing its total workforce to about 12,500, ABC spokeswoman Julie Hoover said.

ABC is in the process of merging with Capital Cities Communications Inc.

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