Cuts trim quality in TV news, analysts say

April 9, 2008 at 12:21 PM

LOS ANGELES, April 9 (UPI) -- Newsroom layoffs at local television stations have reduced experience on news teams in a relatively healthy industry, media analysts said Tuesday.

CBS Corp. trimmed staff by 160 workers last week, including Los Angeles news anchors Harold Greene and Ann Martin, who have been television journalism fixtures in Los Angeles for thirty years, the Los Angeles Times reported. In Chicago, veterans Diann Burns and Mary Ann Childers were among those summarily dismissed.

The cuts were across the board involving 13 television stations, the Times reported.

Revenues are down for local television stations. Key advertisers General Motors Corp. Dealers Association, AT&T and McDonald's Corp. all reduced advertising in the fourth quarter of 2007 -- by 20.7, 15.9 and 24.2 percent, respectively -- TNS Media Intelligence data indicated.

The Internet has diverted dollars from television and political ads have yet to kick in, analysts said.

But, profit margins are still healthy, TV analyst Robert Papper told the Times.

"It's true that profit margins have plummeted into the 20s, but most industries would kill for a profit margin like that," he said.

Viewers worry cuts mean more promotional pieces and a cut in investigative reports.

"I think it's shameful, because in the end the viewer loses out," said Tom Petner, a former local broadcasting executive.

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