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Current TV Cancels Some Shows, Lays Off 80

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Nov. 11 is not a good date for Current TV employees. For the second year in a row, the network/web site hybrid Al Gore built has announced layoffs on that day in the double digits. But while last year, the eliminated jobs were attributed to “a new cross-platform programming strategy,” the bulk of today’s 80 lost jobs are directly tied to the cancellation of Current Tonight, Current Takeover and Current Exposed.

The canceled shows were part of a change in strategy for Current following the hiring of new CEO Mark Rosenthal, according to COO Joanna Drake Earl. “We had a chance to step back to see what’s working and what’s not,” she said via phone, “which led to the decision to move away from an over-reliance on short-form content.”

The layoffs will allow the company to reinvest in programming, marketing and affiliate sales hiring, areas where Earl admitted Current is looking for “more experienced leadership,” as well as invest more in longer-form shows like Infomania and The Rotten Tomatoes Show, both of which she described as successes.

When it comes to finding ways to make the web and TV play nice together, Current has always been an innovator, whether being one of the first to incorporate Twitter updates on news broadcasts or what Earl described as Rotten Tomatoes‘ “low-bar audience participation format.” We’ll just have to see if the next reorganization comes on Nov. 11, 2010.

2 Responses to “Current TV Cancels Some Shows, Lays Off 80”

  1. As I read my severance agreement, I realized that Current is not mentioning an important bit of information. Their actions have triggered the WARN Act. Moreover, when Current says that they’ve laid off 80 employees, they’re not mentioning that they plan to lay off, at least, 20 more. One of the factors that triggers the WARN Act is when a company lays off a third of its workforce. Current had about 300 US employees before today’s layoffs, so letting go of 80 employees does not set off WARN. Letting go of 100 would.

    Why do I think that Current’s workforce reduction falls under WARN? Because in addition to a promised severance payment, I continue on Current’s payroll for 60 days with benefits – even though I have no obligation to perform work. What Current is doing is getting around the 60 day notification provision under WARN by continuing pay and benefits for laid off workers. In addition, my Termination Agreement states that I would release the company from any claims that it has violated the WARN act.

    While Current deflects questions about more lay offs in the coming months, they’re actions cannot hide the fact that they plan to, at least, have a total of 100 employees gone by the next few months.