Fox says not planning massive TV network layoffs

Tue Jan 13, 2009 5:10pm EST
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly said on Tuesday the television network is not planning massive layoffs despite tough times in the entertainment industry and the overall economy.

"This company is committed to not making massive layoffs. There are none in the works right now," Reilly, president of entertainment for Fox Broadcasting, said at the U.S. Television Critics Association meeting where Fox was making a midseason presentation to journalists.

Reilly said Fox, a unit of News Corp, is a "lean company" that has trimmed back on management during last year's five-month strike by Hollywood screenwriters.

"Our network is going to be around. We are committed to it. We are committed to great programing," Reilly said. "We don't want to make any rash moves."

Fox ended last season as the most-watched U.S. TV network, thanks mostly to big, although slipping, ratings for "American Idol." Last year ratings for "American Idol" dropped to an average 28.1 million per episode from 30.8 million in 2006.

The TV talent show returns on Tuesday night with a format that has been tweaked somewhat with the addition of an extra judge and more time for talented performers.

Fox is currently down 9.6 percent in terms of audience from the same time last year, according to data from Nielsen Media Research.

The CBS network, part of CBS Corp is leading the ratings race among the four major networks thanks to strong audiences for its crime series "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," comedy "Two and a Half men" and new drama "The Mentalist."

Reilly said the fall season that started in September was "a little lackluster across the board" for network TV. But he said Fox has now been coming into its own with "Idol" over the next five months and the popular thriller "24," which returned on Sunday after an almost two-year absence.

"This is our high season," Reilly said. "We are coming right into our strength."

<p>Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly is shown during a break during the Fox network summer press tour in Beverly Hills July 14, 2008. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>