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Friday, October 20, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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NBC plans to cut 700 jobs, move MSNBC to New York

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — NBC Universal announced Thursday it will cut 700 jobs, abandon MSNBC's New Jersey headquarters and shift spending from traditional broadcast TV to digital entertainment, reflecting both hard times at the network and changing times in the media world.

The company, a unit of General Electric, said the various moves were expected to save $750 million by the end of 2008.

The impact of the overhaul on MSNBC.com, the Redmond-based news Web site jointly owned and operated by NBC and Microsoft, "will be minimal," said Anne Keegan, an MSNBC.com spokeswoman, in an e-mail 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 television news restructuring is a reflection of how the industry is changing, said Jeff Zucker, chief executive of NBC Universal's television group. "The growth in news is in different places — it's online, it's on wireless."

The company announced no format changes for MSNBC, which has run third behind Fox News Channel and CNN in cable news for much of its 10-year history.

The moves follow three lackluster years at NBC Universal, where operating profit fell 10 percent in each of the past three quarters, cutting 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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