Layoffs hit Al Gore's Current Media
Cable network is latest media company to have cuts, as its Los Angeles and San Francisco offices slim down. Company says about 60 people have been let go, but new ones will be hired.
There have been layoffs at Current Media, the cable network co-founded by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.
A statement from Current put the number of layoffs at about 60 positions, with 30 more to be refilled, the company said in a statement. That's less of a hard hit than the 20 percent cuts that a source close to Current hinted to CNET News on Tuesday. The statement read: "Approximately 60 positions have been eliminated in the company's three U.S. offices, and approximately 30 new positions created," the statement read. "Many of those whose positions were eliminated have been placed in the new positions. Current will have approximately 410 employees (after these staffing adjustments)."
The source also said additional layoffs would be coming in January, which a Current representative denied.
Current had announced less than a day ago that it had partnered with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. to bring its network to Canada. Current's plans for an initial public offering are on hold, employees have told CNET News. The company in January.
Approached outside the company's San Francisco headquarters, one laid-off Current employee said that she hadn't seen it coming.
"Not only was this uncalled for, but there was continuous deliberation during the last two or three months," the former employee said. "Every meeting we've had with the VP of our department has been a lot of 'Don't worry, your positions are secure.' And that has been repeated for the last two to three months."
Changes in programming format are on the way too. Current's focus on indie and amateur producers was a bold experiment, one thatwhen the channel debuted in 2005.
"As part of the impending transition at Current TV, one source says the company is going to drop its shorter (user-generated content) videos in favor of the more traditional 30-minute programs that have long dominated television programming across all channels," David Weir, an analyst at CNET News sister site BNET, reported on Monday night.
The statement from Current hinted at this change as well. "These changes result from the development of a new, innovative programming strategy built around eight cross-platform channels, including news, comedy, music, and technology, slated to premiere in the first quarter of 2009," the statement detailed. "Current's new programming strategy expands upon its pioneering use of viewer-created content to include additional opportunities for participation, creating a far more viewer-influenced network, and further unifies the company's online and TV platforms by having each Web channel paired with a companion TV show."
Company representatives told CNET News last week that it had been a big success, andat the Web 2.0 Summit in which he touched upon how he hopes Current will solve some of the problems plaguing the television news industry.
At least one Current employee, associate producer Andrew Schneider, has Twittered his departure. The company "just laid me off with a ton of my colleagues," Schneider wrote.
Schneider's LinekdIn profile says that he worked in VC2, the "Viewer Created" or user-generated content division of Current. A source told CNET News that the VC2 division was hit particularly hard by the layoffs.
The company statement said the layoffs were a preventative measure: "These changes enable Current Media to reduce its cost structure, thereby assuring that it will be comfortably profitable in 2009, regardless (of) the depth and length of the recession."
Last update at 8:02 p.m. PT. CNET News' James Martin contributed to this article.