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truTV’s “In Session” Shuts Down

TruTV_6.23.gifBreaking: TVNewser has learned truTV’s ‘In Session’ daytime programming is shutting down its New York operations leaving as many as 65 staffers out of a job. Executives from Turner Broadcasting, which owns truTV, have been notifying employees of the change this afternoon. ‘In Session’ includes longtime anchors Jack Ford and Ashleigh Banfield, who, we’re told, are among the cuts.

The live daytime programming from truTV’s headquarters on Manhattan’s east side will cease in mid-November. At that point
Turner Broadcasting’s HLN in Atlanta will provide programming for truTV’s daytime hours. Primetime reality programming will continue. truTV was the 10th most watched cable network in Total Day last week, ahead of CNN and MSNBC. In primetime, truTV was ranked #19, also ahead of CNN and MSNBC.

“It’s really sad,” one longtime staffer tells TVNewser.

truTV began as CourtTV in 1991. It made its name with gavel-to-gavel coverage of trials across the country, most notably OJ Simpson’s double murder trial in 1994-95. Time Warner had a 25% stake in CourtTV when it launched. It bought full control in 2006 and re-branded the channel on Jan. 1, 2008.

> Update: Insiders tell us the number of positions eliminated in New York is around 100, with up to 70 jobs created in Atlanta.

> Update (2): We’re told 10 of the current field staffers will be kept on for trial coverage: four reporter/lawyers and six producers.

> More: Statement from Turner Broadcasting: Production of truTV’s IN SESSION trial coverage will shift from New York to HLN in Atlanta, effective Nov. 16, to leverage the unrivaled production capabilities and infrastructure of the CNN organization, which includes HLN. This move will result in some position elimination in New York and position growth in Atlanta, which we are currently addressing. There will be no interruption to IN SESSION’s programming schedule. We are also restructuring truTV’s marketing staff, which will include a reduction of some positions in New York.

• After the jump, the internal memo from truTV EVP Marc Juris and CNN Worldwide EVP Ken Jautz


June 23, 2009

To: Colleagues
From: Marc Juris, executive vice president and general manager, truTV; Ken Jautz, executive vice president, CNN Worldwide

Three years ago, Court TV joined the Turner Broadcasting portfolio. Since then, we have worked together to grow the business as an important and valued part of the larger organization. Court TV was rebranded as truTV and IN SESSION at the beginning of 2008. Our success, especially in an economic climate of unprecedented challenges, is a point of pride – not just within Turner’s entertainment division but across the entire company.

Today, we are announcing logical, next steps in the evolution and growth of IN SESSION, truTV’s successful daytime block of courtroom trials. Effective Nov. 16, production of trial coverage for IN SESSION will shift to HLN. This will leverage the unrivaled infrastructure and production capabilities of HLN and the larger CNN news organization.

The IN SESSION name will continue, with physical production, including studio shows, now overseen by HLN from Atlanta. HLN will create studio space and assign dedicated staff to IN SESSION production, including on-air talent. IN SESSION business operations will also become part of HLN.

A second change involves a restructuring and new identity for truTV’s marketing efforts. The newly formed Brand Strategy & Marketing umbrella will include the Digital Content & Multi-Platform Development group, formerly the online group. truTV’s affiliate marketing activities will move to Atlanta, which is the base for the overall affiliate marketing team for truTV’s sister networks, TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies.

Shifting IN SESSION’s newsgathering and production to HLN and CNN, along with the marketing changes at truTV, makes sense strategically and operationally. These changes will result in job redundancies and elimination of positions in New York and the addition of jobs in Atlanta. Discussions are beginning today with those involved. Please be assured that our affected colleagues will be afforded appropriate assistance and professional consideration. We know you will be supportive of them through this transition.

truTV and IN SESSION will continue to succeed and grow because they have the respect and resources of Turner Broadcasting and the passion and commitment of extraordinary people throughout the organization. We all appreciate the important role you play in the continued success of these businesses and our company.

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