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Thursday, October 19, 2006 - Page updated at 12:17 PM

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NBC cutting 700 jobs in overhaul, will move MSNBC to New York

The Associated Press

NEW YORK – NBC Universal said Thursday it would cut 700 jobs and streamline its news operations as part an overhaul aimed at exploiting new forms of electronic distribution.

NBC, a unit of General Electric, said it expects the revamp to save $750 million in operating expenses by 2008. The job cuts would represent about 5 percent of its work force.

"The impact to MSNBC.com in Redmond from this announcement will be minimal," Anne Keegan, a spokeswoman for the news Web site jointly owned and operated by NBC and Microsoft, said in an email to The Seattle Times.

NBC's long-struggling 24-hour cable news channel, MSNBC, will move its operations from Secaucus, N. J., to NBC's headquarters in Manhattan's Rockefeller Center and also to another NBC facility in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

Last December, NBC bought a controlling interest in MSNBC from Microsoft, with whom it launched the channel as a joint venture in 1996.

Keegan said MSNBC.com welcomes the consolidation in Manhattan, because its roughly 30 employees in Secaucus "require close proximity and consistent access to NBC News producers" there to better perform their digital news production and distribution functions.

"Operationally, the Redmond facility will not change, but as NBC refines its new operation and streamlines processes, including the process for getting video on the Web, there may be changes in the part of the MSNBC.com operation in Redmond that handles that function down the road," Keegan said.

MSNBC.com has between 120 and 170 employees in Redmond, she said.

The broad changes don't represent a diminishing commitment to news but reflect how the industry is changing, Jeff Zucker, chief executive of NBC Universal's television group, told The Associated Press.

"The growth in news is in different places — it's online, it's on wireless," he said.

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The company's TV station group will also create a consolidated news facility in Burbank, Calif. that will support NBC as well as its Spanish-language broadcaster Telemundo.

The revamp will also affect the company's Universal Studios business, where cuts will be made to consolidate support and marketing functions.

The expected savings follow three lackluster years at NBC Universal, where operating profit fell 10 percent in each of the past three quarters. The slumping results cut into GE earnings.

Seattle Times technology reporter Benjamin J. Romano contributed information about MSNBC.com to this report.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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