‘Turner 2020’ cuts hit CNN

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Jeff Zucker. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
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Alex Weprin

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CNN faced significant layoffs on the editorial side of its business Tuesday, as parent company Time Warner continued to cut costs.

Capital has learned that production staff on a number of shows, including Christiane Amanpour's program, have been let go. In addition, CNN has shuttered its entertainment news unit, with some staff being laid off, and others being folded into other departments. CNN's D.C. bureau is also facing layoffs today, though the details remain unclear.

In addition, Darius Walker, V.P. and Northeast bureau chief, will leave the company. His departure is notable because it comes just a few days after the National Association of Black Journalists sent a letter to CNN saying it was "concerned" about the lack of African-American voices at the channel. Walker was one of the highest-profile African-American executives at CNN.

HLN's "Jane Velez-Mitchell" has been canceled, with her staff of 15 also being let go.

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Over the last five days there have been other cuts, with CNN, TBS and TNT offices in Atlanta hit particularly hard. Corporate departments like human resources, and business-side departments like ad sales and marketing, have also been cut, in some cases significantly. There are expected to be more cuts over the next couple of days.

All told, CNN will see about 170 layoffs, in addition to the 130 buyouts being taken by long-term staff. Some open positions will not be filled. Overall, Turner will reduce its workforce by nearly 1,500.

"The changes this week are difficult yet necessary," a CNN spokesperson told Capital. "Out of respect for our colleagues directly impacted, we won’t be commenting on specific people or programs."

Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting unit, which owns CNN, is in the midst of cutting 10 percent of its workforce as part of its "Turner 2020" plan. CNN is being hit less hard than some of the company's other channels, but the losses are still substantial.

CNN president Jeff Zucker has said that he wants to protect digital, original series and breaking news, leaving production, corporate departments and some newsgathering roles ripe for trimming.