TV Guide Network Axes Staff, Restructures

Cuts are part of a move to position the channel as a competitor to E! and Entertainment Tonight.

Five months after purchasing TV Guide Network, Lionsgate Entertainment has cut the struggling channel’s work force by 38 positions — about 11 percent of its staff.

 

Let go Thursday were 15 full-time staffers in program production, 15 full-time temporary employees and two on-air talents, John Fugelsang and Teresa Strasser of the talk show "TV Watercooler." In addition, six open positions will not be filled. Most of the cuts were in Los Angeles.

 

Three shows are being affected: "TV Watercooler" is being dropped, the daily "Hollywood 411" is going weekly and the weekly "Infanity" will continue as a series of specials starting June 22.

 

The cuts come two weeks after Lionsgate sold 49 percent of the channel to JPMorgan Chase's One Equity Partners for $123 million.

 

However, the cuts are not intended to be “layoffs in the traditional sense,” Lionsgate Senior VP for Investor Relations and Executive Communications Peter Wilkes told TheWrap. “The reduction represents a reallocation of resources and a shift of programming priorities away form existing in-house productions.”

 

When Lionsgate bought the network back in January, it had a fair amount of on-air programming, which Lionsgate now plans on replacing with larger shows, an insider at the channel told TheWrap. A large part of the network's current schedule includes pickups like VH-1's "Flavor of Love" and "Celebrity Fit Club."

 

The plan is to put the network in a position to compete with other entertainment channels — such as E! and Entertainment Tonight — and shift its programming towards entertainment news and shows with broad commercial appeal, the channel insider said.

 

Troubled TV Guide, the magazine, cut 30 members of its staff earlier this year, but Lionsgate has no corporate affiliation with the magazine. The magazine is owned by OpenGate Capital, an L.A.-based private equity firm.