CNN CEO Chris Licht Begins First Round of Anticipated Layoffs

Layoffs are slated to begin at cable news giant CNN on Wednesday and Thursday as its parent company Warner Bros. Discovery continues to cut costs.

CNN CEO Chris Licht said in a memo to employees Wednesday morning that paid contributors would be notified about their status later that day as part of a recalibrated reporting strategy, while full-time employees will be informed of their status on Thursday.

“Our people are the heart and soul of this organization. It is incredibly hard to say goodbye to any one member of the CNN team, much less many,” Licht wrote. “I recently described this process as a gut punch, because I know that is how it feels for all of us.”

“It will be a difficult time for everyone,” he added.

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Impacted employees will learn more through an in-person or Zoom meeting, depending on their location. The meeting will go over information including any severance that would apply and each employee’s anticipated last day.

Licht emphasized that everyone who is bonus eligible will still receive their performance-based bonuses for 2022. He also said that a link would be shared with employees on Thursday with resources designed to support both departing and remaining employees.

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Licht first warned CNN employees about the cuts in October, noting that the network would be looking to cut costs by year’s end.

“There is widespread concern over the global economic outlook, and we must factor that risk into our long-term planning,” Licht wrote in a memo at the time. “All this together will mean noticeable changes to this organization.”

In addition to the latest cuts, the network’s streaming service CNN+ has been shuttered and high profile talent including Brian Stelter and John Harwood have exited. Licht has also made sweeping programming changes, including moving Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins to a new morning program.

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In a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing in October, Warner Brothers Discovery said it expects up to $4.3 billion in pre-tax restructuring charges, including $800 million to $1.1 billion in severance, retention, relocation and other related costs.

On its latest earnings call on Nov. 3, Warner Bros. Discovery president and CEO David Zaslav said the company was increasing its cost-cutting synergies target from $3 billion to at least $3.5 billion.

Warner Bros. Discovery stock is down approximately 56% year to date.