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Paramount Global to lay off 800 employees after record Super Bowl ad revenue and ratings

<i>Mario Tama/Getty Images</i><br/>The Paramount Pictures logo is displayed in front of Paramount Studios on January 31
Mario Tama/Getty Images
The Paramount Pictures logo is displayed in front of Paramount Studios on January 31

By Liam Reilly and Oliver Darcy, CNN

(CNN) — Paramount Global, the owner of broadcast and cable TV networks, announced Tuesday it will lay off hundreds of staffers as the media giant looks to reduce costs and grow revenue. The news comes just days after its CBS network saw record-breaking advertising sales and the highest-rated telecast for the Super Bowl.

The company’s chief executive, Bob Bakish, announced the layoffs in a memo to employees Tuesday obtained by CNN. While Bakish did not specify the number of layoffs, sources familiar with the matter told CNN around 800 employees, or roughly 3% cut of the company’s workforce, will be affected. The announcement follows a January 25 memo in which Bakish warned that Paramount Global would “reduce our workforce globally” as part of “our path to earnings growth.”

The cuts will impact staffers around the world, with those in the US being notified by the end of business Tuesday, Bakish wrote.

“These adjustments will help enable us to build on our momentum and execute our strategic vision for the year ahead — and I firmly believe we have much to be excited about,” Bakish wrote.

Among those impacted by the layoffs were some of the highest-profile journalists at CBS News.

Senior investigative correspondent Catherine Herridge and chief national affairs and justice correspondent Jeff Pegues were notified Tuesday that they were being laid off, two people familiar with the matter told CNN. It was not known when their last day at the network would be.

A CBS News spokesperson did not comment.

Herridge, who joined CBS News in 2019 from Fox News, has been entangled in a First Amendment lawsuit over her refusal to disclose her source(s) for a series of 2017 stories she reported on during her time at Fox News. Pegues joined CBS News in 2013, reporting on the network’s broadcast platforms and hosted the podcast “America: Changed Forever.”

The layoffs come amid reports that Shari Redstone, the family heiress of Paramount’s parent, National Amusements, has been in talks to sell her stake in the company. In recent months, David Zaslav, the chief executive of CNN parent Warner Bros. Discovery, met with Bakish and broached a potential merger between the two companies. David Ellison’s Skydance and RedBird Capital have also made takeover offers.

Paramount declined to comment for this story.

The media giant, which is attempting to transition its business from traditional linear television to streaming, announced Monday that CBS’s broadcast of Super Bowl LVIII broke ratings records with a staggering 123.4 million viewers, marking the largest US TV audience since the 1969 moon landing. The network also broke advertising sales records for the big game.

“We set the high-water mark for ad sales for a Super Bowl, and it’s looking like on Sunday we’ll set an all-time viewing number with any luck,” Bakish said Friday in a Bloomberg TV interview.

Paramount is the latest media conglomerate to lay off staffers in 2024. In January, the news industry saw cuts at The Los Angeles Times, TIME and Business Insider, while staffers at Condé Nast, Forbes and The New York Daily News staged historic walkouts to protest planned cuts.

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