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‘Large-scale’ lay-offs warning as AMC Networks set to axe 20% of staff

AMC’s slate includes Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul

AMC Networks is set to be the latest US media company to take cost-cutting measures after company chairman James Dolan told staff it will “undergo significant cutbacks in operations” including “large-scale” lay-offs and “cuts to every operating area.”

The company is expected to cut around 20% of its workforce in the US.

In a memo to staff, Dolan said: “As I am sure you are aware our industry has been under pressure from growing subscriber losses. This is primarily due to cord-cutting. At the same time we have seen the rise of direct-to-consumer streaming apps, including our own AMC+.

“It was our belief that cord-cutting losses would be offset by gains in streaming. This has not been the case. We are primarily a content company and the mechanisms for the monetisation of content are in disarray.”

AMC is the parent company of streaming platforms including Acorn TV, AMC+ and Shudder and cablenets including AMC, Sundance TV and IFC. Its roster of series includes Better Call Saul, The Walking Dead and Dark Winds.

AMC is not alone in taking a long, hard look at its cost structure. Across the board, companies in the content business have re-examined their models this year amid accelerated cord cutting, losses related to investments in streaming, struggles in the stock market and a looming recession.

Since the turn of the year, AMC Networks’ share price has dropped from US$26 to US$7.43 on Tuesday.

Dolan did not elaborate on exactly when the cuts would take place but indicated they will begin shortly.

“We of course realise that this will cause significant concern and anxiety for our employees and those who rely on AMC Networks for their livelihood. We do not take this lightly. We will take every step possible to minimise the impact of these actions on our community. However, it is imperative that we begin immediately with this new course of action,” he said.

The news comes on the heels of Tuesday’s announcement that AMC Networks CEO Christina Spade has stepped down from the role after less than three months. Spade had previously been the chief financial officer and chief operating officer before stepping into the CEO role in early September.

Dolan, whose family is the controlling shareholder of AMC Networks, added: “The Dolan Family and the Board of AMC Networks have great pride in the company and products that you have created. This is a confusing and uncertain time in our industry. We are confident that AMC Networks will come through this even stronger. Your executive leadership will follow up with details shortly. We wish only the best for everyone in the AMC Networks community.”

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