Television

ABC News to shorten staff by 25 per cent

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MUMBAI: ABC News, a Walt Disney Company, will shortly reduce its news-gathering staff through buyouts and layoffs. 

Employees of the company fear that the cutbacks would affect 300 to 400 people of the news division.

A spokesman said that the cuts at ABC are among the steepest ever made at a network news division. The current workforce of ABC News is roughly around 1,500 people.

Said ABC News president David Westin in an interview that the reductions were an effort to get ahead of economic pressures squeezing the broadcast business.

Calling the cutbacks as a "fundamental transformation", Westin said, "The time has come to rethink how we do what we are doing." 

Westin also said that the news division was not in extreme economic duress. "ABC News has always kept its head above water, even in really bad times," he said.

He, however, did not comment on reports that the goal was a 20 per cent cost reduction across the board at ABC News. 

For decades, the network news divisions have suffered audience erosion, the result of competition from cable, the Internet and changing consumer habits. 

Earlier this month CBS News, said that it was laying off dozens of employees. 

ABC plans to combine its weekday and weekend staffs of "Good Morning America" and "World News," and rely more heavily on freelancers for newsmagazines like "20/20." 

The network will also further reduce its news bureau structure by replacing some bureaus with more flexible so-called digital journalists who work on their own in foreign capitals.

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