Today is another sobering day for the tech and media world. Current TV has confirmed that 80 people are being let go, leaving the company with 300 employees worldwide. We heard multiple reports of significant layoffs at Current TV earlier in the day. One source, whose spouse works at Current TV, warns of a “major bloodbath today at CurrentTV, across all departments,” with cuts hitting “most of the people in the LA production office, as stuff is being outsourced.”
Current Media’s COO, Joanna Drake Earl told me over the phone that the layoffs are due to a shifting of programming strategy and are not a cost-cutting measure. Current is shifting away from in-house production and towards out sourcing segments, which will be done via acquisitions, co-productions, and the use of outside studios. Layoffs took place in Current’s San Francisco, Los Angeles, London and New York offices, but the cuts were mostly made in the production and programming areas. Earl added that this year is set to be Current’s most profitable year since its launch. See the entire statement issued by Current below.
A year ago to date, the media company, which was co-founded by Al Gore and Joel Hyatt, eliminated 60 positions. The media company also recently canceled its $100 million IPO that was originally announced in January 2008. Current said in a statement that market conditions and the recession forced the company to abandon the IPO. And this summer, Current Media got a new CEO, Mark Rosenthal, who replaced Hyatt. Rosenthal was the former president and COO of MTV networks and was also vice chairman and president of media platforms at SpotRunner.
Current made headlines this year after two of its reporters were detained by North Korea in a relatively high-profile incident (the reporters were eventually released after former President Bill Clinton intervened).
Cable channel Current TV is broadcast internationally to 59 million homes with markets in regions including the United States, Italy, and the UK. Current also has a strong web presence, tapping into popular social media services like Digg and Twitter for special events like the 2008 presidential election.
The Guardian Media Group announced news of layoffs this morning and yesterday brought news of other tech layoffs, with Adobe cutting 9 percent of its staff. This week also brought announcements of from Electronic Arts and Sprint. We’ve added Current’s layoff to the TechCrunch Layoff Tracker.
Here’s the entirety of the email that was sent to us by a representative for Current:
Current Media has made changes to its organization, most notably in the area of television programming. Current will be shifting away from short-form programming and daily in-house production and towards proven 30-60 minute formats from a multitude of sources, including acquisitions, co-productions, outside studios, as well as Current developed and produced content.
With this change, Current made the difficult yet necessary decision to eliminate certain daily, weekly, and non-regularly scheduled programs, including “Current Tonight,” “Current Takeover” and “Current Exposed.”
As a result of these cancelations, and the shift away from a reliance on daily in-house production, Current Media eliminated 80 positions worldwide associated with the affected programs and related support personnel in the company.
This re-organization was not the result of a need to cut costs. Current Media will have its most profitable year. This financial stability will allow the company to re-allocate resources in order to put further emphasis on areas of the business believed to best position Current Media for continued long-term growth. Part of this investment will be the immediate creation of new executive positions, and teams in program development, licensing and acquisitions, talent management, research, marketing, affiliate relations and advertising sales.
As part of the re-organization, Current Media will be consolidating television production and programming development activities together under one roof in Los Angeles with new facilities at LA Center Studios.