April 24, 2002 10:35 AM PDT

TechTV lays off 50, shuffles programming

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On-air and online network TechTV said Wednesday that it has reduced its staff as part of an effort to reorganize its programming.

The San Francisco company said it laid off 50 employees, but it did not disclose staff numbers before or after the layoffs, citing its status as a privately held company.

The layoffs come amid a sharp downturn in advertising for both Internet and traditional media, and as a general interest in technology has waned since the collapse of the dot-com bubble.

That combination has hurt TechTV, which launched with visions of offering extensive daily live television news targeting average consumers.

Now it is in the middle of a programming overhaul that has drastically cut its live broadcasts.

A year ago, TechTV launched "Tech Live," a live news program on its cable TV channel. The format aimed to bolster TechTV's coverage of breaking technology news with nine and a half hours of live daily programming from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET. The show has since been cut to a half-hour.

People can also view top stories on TechTV's Web site through its video-on-demand service and listen to live audio streams of the cable TV program.

A spokeswoman for TechTV said the layoffs came because "TechTV is moving toward more of an entertainment-based network."

Tuesday's layoffs follow the departure of Chairman and Chief Executive Larry Wangberg, who resigned three months ago after nearly five years with the company. TechTV shed about a quarter of its staff in November, blaming weak advertising demand. Eight months before that, the company laid off about a dozen employees.

TechTV said it has conducted extensive research that shows that its target audience comprises more than 56.5 million adults, ages 18 to 54, who are cable and satellite subscribers. As a result, the network said its primary target is the "tech fan" who looks to television programming for insight on how the latest products, trends and events will enhance their lifestyles.

TechTV is owned by Vulcan Ventures, the investment company of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, which purchased TechTV from Ziff-Davis in November 1999.

 

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