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MTV News shut down as Paramount Global cuts 25% of its staff

MTV News is shutting down, part of broader cost-cutting measures being implemented by its parent company Paramount Global.
Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
MTV News is shutting down, part of broader cost-cutting measures being implemented by its parent company Paramount Global.

The entertainment world is bidding farewell to MTV News. The network's heyday ended years ago but, for a time, it was the go-to source for interviews with leading artists and newsmakers, from Madonna to Prince.

The shutdown of MTV News comes as Paramount Global, the parent company of CBS, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and Showtime announced today that it is laying off some 25% of its staff.

In addition to reports of a soft ad market, Paramount Global is doing considerable restructuring. Earlier this year, Showtime merged with MTV Entertainment Studios.

In an email to staff obtained by NPR, Chris McCarthy, president and CEO of Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios and Paramount Media Networks, explained the decision-making behind the cuts. While touting the "incredible track record of hits" such as Yellowstone, South Park, and Yellowjackets, McCarthy wrote, "despite this success in streaming, we continue to feel pressure from broader economic headwinds like many of our peers. To address this, our senior leaders in coordination with HR have been working together over the past few months to determine the optimal organization for the current and future needs of our business."

"This is a very sad day for a lot of friends and colleagues," wrote MTV News' Josh Horowitz on Instagram, "Many great people lost their jobs. I was hired by MTV News 17 years ago. I'm so honored to have been a small part of its history. Wishing the best for the best in the business."

The news comes on the heels of a disappointing first quarter earnings report for the corporation. During the earnings call this week, Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish said the corporation was "navigating a challenging and uncertain macroeconomic environment, and you see the impact of that on our financials, as the combination of peak streaming investment intersects with cyclical ad softness."

A few days ago, MTV announced it was scaling back its annual awards show in the face of an ongoing writer's strike.

Chris McCarthy's full email to Paramount Global staff is below:

Team,

As we finalize the integration of SHOWTIME and continue to transform our business for the future, we have set a great foundation for continued success by consolidating our group into two functions:

Studios – integrating SHOWTIME and MTV Entertainment Studios into one powerful studio team

Networks – combining nine separate teams into one portfolio group

This combination has resulted in an incredible track record of hits including Yellowstone, 1883, Tulsa King, South Park, The Challenge, Teen Wolf, 1923, Drag Race, Mayor of Kingstown, Your Honor, George & Tammy and Yellowjackets – which, taken together, drove record subscribers across Paramount+ and Showtime and helped Paramount+ lead the industry in new subscriber growth.

However, despite this success in streaming, we continue to feel pressure from broader economic headwinds like many of our peers. To address this, our senior leaders in coordination with HR have been working together over the past few months to determine the optimal organization for the current and future needs of our business.

As a result, we have made the very hard but necessary decision to reduce our domestic team by approximately 25%. This is a tough yet important strategic realignment of our group. Through the elimination of some units and by streamlining others, we will be able to reduce costs and create a more effective approach to our business as we move forward. Today we will notify employees whose positions are being impacted with leaders communicating the news directly to those teams/or individuals. These meetings will be followed by individual 1:1s with our HR partners.

I realize these decisions will be very hard for everyone, most of all, those who will be leaving. It's not something we take lightly. We have some of the most passionate and dedicated team members, who bring their full selves to drive our brands and business forward. This is why it's so difficult to say goodbye to our friends and colleagues. To those impacted, we deeply appreciate the passion and creativity you have brought every day. I want to thank you for your many contributions.

Our leadership team and HR partners are committed to ensuring this process is done with empathy and respect.

Sincerely,

Chris

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Elizabeth Blair is a Peabody Award-winning senior producer/reporter on the Arts Desk of NPR News.