CNN chief Chris Licht tells staff to brace for budget cuts
Chris Licht, the television producer and media company’s head of development, was talking to staff at The Daily News on Thursday night when he dropped a bombshell on the audience.
“I can’t tell you exactly how this will affect us,” he said. “But we’re going to be cutting all of our programs.”
That’s right. Chris Licht was warning that the company would be cutting its own development expenses by 40 percent — even though he says programming and staff growth has been strong — in a move that could mean layoffs. If you’ve ever heard about cutting costs at the company, you know what the result can be.
“We’re going to be spending less money,” Licht said. “And in some cases, we’re going to be laying people off, and some of those employees are going to go somewhere else.”
The news was shocking, but it was all made possible in part by The News’ strength, its size and the market share it holds.
“The News is a very unique organization, and I’d argue it’s unique to the way that television is in this country,” Licht said. “We’re the only one which is a news magazine show with a nightly newscast. It is the only one that’s a drama — which is a unique situation — and we’re on five of the six national evening newscasts.”
Licht also noted, “I think that we have strong audience growth trends that we’re seeing.”
The News’ audience has grown by 5 percent a year over the past five years, according to Nielsen data, and it appears to have a bright future, with Licht predicting at least two more years of growth.
“And I think over the long-term, the News will continue to grow at the same rate as it has over the last five years,” said Licht, who began his career as a producer on “The Mike Douglas Show” and has produced shows for “Hollywood Squares” and “The Tonight Show” alongside his role at The News. “I think that the audience has a lot of staying power, and it’s going to grow a lot.”
But it’s only half of