NBCU, Viacom, AT&T Announce Layoffs: MediaBytes with Shelly Palmer December 5, 2008

AT&T plans to layoff 12,000 employees. The telco giant claims that a decline in landlines and a lack of growth in broadband subscribers has significantly cut into their business. An analyst at UBS believes that AT&T will cut spending in 2009 by 10-15% from the $20 billion spent in 2008.

Viacom is cutting 7% of its work force. Besides cutting 850 jobs, Viacom will take on $450 million in 4Q asset write-downs. The company, which continues to deal with major ratings declines at its most valuable networks, will also implement a salary freeze for 2009.

CEA reissued its holiday forecast yesterday and cut its sales projections. The Consumer Electronics Association, which predicted sales would increase by 3.5%, now believes sales will be equal to last years. While unit shipments of televisions, a key indicator, have been up, the amount of revenue generated by sales fell 3%.

Microsoft named former Yahoo! executive Qi Lu head of its Internet division. Qi Lu is a tech-centric executive, a computer scientist with Ph.D. and more than 20 patents, rather than an advertising and marketing exec, who Microsoft believes can help them compete with Google.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has canceled the company's plan to let employees cash out of their shares early. The original plan, announced in August, would have allowed employees to sell up to $900,000 or 10% of their stock holdings, whichever was less. The retraction of the stock sale is a good indicator that Facebook's $15 billion valuation is now a relic from the past.

Plus, today's consulting question, "Why is Amazon collecting data and giving it away for free?" Shelly has the answer on today's MediaBytes.

Shelly Palmer is a consultant and the host of MediaBytes a daily show featuring news you can use about technology, media & entertainment. He is Managing Director of Advanced Media Ventures Group LLC and the author of Television Disrupted: The Transition from Network to Networked TV (2008, York House Press). Shelly is also President of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, NY (the organization that bestows the coveted Emmy® Awards). You can join the MediaBytes mailing list here. Shelly can be reached at shelly@palmer.net