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CNN Said to Eliminate as Many as 1,000 Jobs

Atlanta-based CNN is expected to announce significant layoffs in a massive company-wide restructuring plan as soon as next week, according to today's Wall Street Journal. As many as 1,000 jobs could be affected, according to the report.

The anticipated cutbacks would occur in response to CNN consolidating its television and Internet divisions following the expected completion of the proposed merger between CNN's parent company Time Warner and Internet giant America Online. The FCC, which represents the final regulatory hurdle of the megamerger, could rule as early as today.

CNN spokesperson Edna Johnson could neither confirm on any impending layoffs nor speak about the mood among CNN employees. "What I can tell you is, as a matter of company policy, we do not speculate about personnel matters," Johnson said Thursday.

The report was based after a memo, written to employees by CNN Chairman Tom Johnson and President Phil Kent. Details of the memo was first reported last month by the New York Daily News. In the memo, Johnson and Kent warned of "aggressive" restructuring in store for the company in 2001. In part, the memo reads:

"As you know, this is a time of change here at CNN. Aggressive programming changes. Aggressive changes in the way we gather the news and bring it to our viewers and users. In the coming weeks, we will consider the talents, skills and potential of each employee so that we can best match our people to the career opportunities across our services and best serve CNN as we prepare for the future as a key part of AOL/Time Warner. Expect a detailed and wide-ranging announcement early in the new year."

The expected restructuring could affect from 12.5 to 25 percent of CNN's 4,000-member staff. A total of 2,800 employees are based in Atlanta.

Rumors surrounding possible layoffs have been sweeping through CNN since the announcement of a merger with America Online.

Perhaps the biggest cuts will involve employees within the CNN Interactive division, according to the WSJ story. Ironically, the layoffs would come on the heels of record-setting Web visits during the Gore-Bush presidential election, which saw 156.7 million viewers to its site on November 8, the day after votes were cast.

CNNi employs about 750 people.