Time Warner to cut over 500 senior workers at Turner Broadcasting

August 26, 2014, 12:35 PM UTC

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The $160 billion AOL-Time Warner merger, hailed as a dream marriage old and new media, quickly fizzled with the Internet bubble. Subscribers to AOL's stodgy dial-up business defected to broadband. Advertisers abandoned AOL in droves. The promised synergies between the two divisions, like selling each other's advertising and sharing content, never really materialized. Eventually, amid a depressed stock price, the combined company split up (disclosure: Fortune magazine is owned by Time Warner).
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Time Warner (TWX) will cut more than 500 senior employees from its Turner Broadcasting division, which includes CNN, Cartoon Network and TBS, on Tuesday in an effort to reduce costs.

After fighting off a $71 billion takeover offer from Rupert Murdoch, Time Warner is looking into ways to achieve growth and higher returns for shareholders as an independent company.

While Turner’s 4.6% revenue growth outpaced Time Warner’s 2.7% overall bump in the second quarter, ratings for its networks have faltered. Turner’s ratings declined 10% in the second quarter, according to Trefis analysts.

The cuts will come as voluntary buyouts for workers 55 and older who have worked at the company for a certain amount of years. The offers will include enhanced severance benefits and will only be extended to U.S. staff due to international labor laws, sources with knowledge told the Financial Times.

The buyouts are part of the “Turner 2020” plan announced by Turner CEO John Martin in June. The initiative is focused on streamlining operational costs and boosting profitability. It hasn’t been confirmed if Turner will pursue layoffs or redundancies if enough workers don’t take the buyouts.

In a note shared with employees last week, Tuner said it would “finalize organization changes” in the coming weeks and unveil a new corporate structure in the next two months. The Financial Times source said that additional job cuts will most likely happen before the end of October when the Turner 2020 plan wraps.

Time Warner and Turner Broadcasting spokespeople could not be immediately reached for comment.