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Layoffs for interactive TV firm Liberate

Liberate Technologies plans to cut 30 percent of its work force, as the company wrestles with accounting problems and a weak technology market.

Liberate Technologies, a maker of technology for interactive televisions, announced Wednesday that it plans to lay off approximately 30 percent of its work force, a cost-cutting move that comes amid recent woes.

The cuts, which will affect about 180 employees, will occur Friday and will result in a one-time restructuring charge of $6 million in the third quarter. Liberate said it will also phase out another 60 employees during the next three months.

The layoffs will touch all the company's business units and are being undertaken to reduce operating expenses, the company said.

This is Liberate's latest challenge in the past few months.

Last month, Liberate fired its chief operating officer after a company investigation into questionable accounting.

The investigation began in October and centered on a single licensing-fee transaction worth about $1.84 million in revenue. That initial examination resulted in the company announcing it would restate its financial results for fiscal 2002, which ended May 31, and for its fiscal 2002 fourth quarter.

But in November, Liberate said it discovered further transactions that called into question the timing and propriety of booking $10 million in revenue during fiscal 2002 and the first quarter of fiscal 2003.

Liberate's investigation is ongoing, and the company plans to delay filing its fiscal 2002 earnings and its fiscal first-quarter 2003 results with regulators until the review is over. The company will postpone the release of its fiscal second-quarter results until the investigation concludes.

In addition to its accounting problems, Liberate has been faced with the grim task of generating revenue in the current economic environment. In August, Liberate slashed its fiscal first-quarter earnings forecast. The company cut its pro forma revenue forecast by 36 percent and doubled its anticipated pro forma net loss.

Executives at Liberate were not immediately available for comment.

Liberate CEO Mitchell Kertzman is a member of the board of directors at CNET Networks, publisher of News.com.