Dave Lougee, president and CEO of Tegna, sent an email to employees today announcing companywide weeklong furloughs to be taken in the second quarter of this year.
Lougee said while the TV stations have seen big gains in audiences on all platforms, “many businesses have decreased or in some cases pulled their current advertising and marketing campaigns because of COVID-19.”
The company is implementing a “one week furlough for most employees to be taken between the week of April 20 and the week of June 26. In lieu of one-week furloughs, news directors and station heads of technology will receive a commensurate 8% temporary pay reduction and general managers and corporate senior vice presidents and above will receive a 20% temporary pay reduction.”
Lougee said he and the Tegna board of directors will take a 25% pay cut during April, May and June.
Tegna has been the target of several suitors who said they were interested in buying the company, but since the COVID-19 outbreak, at least two of the offers have fallen off the table. Since then, and coupled with the COVID-19 crisis, Tegna stock has tanked.
Tegna is the first of the big TV owners to announce such cuts, but a new survey of local TV news directors predicts that other cuts are inevitable around the country. The study, conducted by RTDNA and the Newhouse School at Syracuse University, found 76% of news directors surveyed said station management/corporate ownership is worried about the loss of business from COVID-19.
One news director said, “It’s not a worry, it’s happening.”
Al Tompkins is senior faculty at Poynter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @atompkins.