NBC Universal said Thursday that it plans to slash 700 jobs, or about 5% of its workforce, and streamline its news operations to adjust to changes in the media industry.
NBC, a unit of
, said it expects to save $750 million in operating expenses by 2008 as a result of the changes. It will lay off personnel from the company's 11 news divisions, including on-air talent.
"Success in this business means quickly adjusting to and anticipating change," the company said in a press release. "This initiative is designed to help us exploit technology and focus our resources, as we continue our transformation into a digital media company for the 21st century."
As part of its restructuring efforts, NBC will move operations for its 24-hour cable news network, MSNBC, from its current office in Secaucus, N.J., to the broadcast headquarters in Manhattan's Rockefeller Center and another facility in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.
On the West Coast, NBC will create a consolidated news facility in Burbank, Calif., that will house NBC and its Spanish-language broadcaster Telemundo. Cuts will also be made at the company's film business, Universal Studios.
Like its counterparts in the network television business, NBC has struggled for years with its news and entertainment businesses as younger audiences have moved to cable outlets and the Internet for their information needs. The unit's lackluster results hurt GE's profitability in the third quarter, and these changes suggest the company has concluded that major changes are needed for the business.
The Wall Street Journal
reported before Thursday's announcement that Jeff Zucker, chief executive of NBC Universal's television group, said the company will move away from the high-priced, scripted dramas and comedies in prime time that have long been NBC's rainmakers. Such programming is no longer attracting enough advertising interest to justify its costs.
Shares of GE were recently down 26 cents, or 0.7%, to $35.30.