Citing the coronavirus pandemic, the Sinclair Broadcast Group said on Wednesday that it will reduce its workforce by approximately 5%, amounting to hundreds of layoffs across the company.
“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be felt across all sectors of the economy, something that can have a profound impact on a company as diversified as ours,” a Sinclair spokesperson told CNN Business in a statement. “From local businesses and advertisers to distributors and partners, no component of our business’s ecosystem has been fully shielded from the impact of the global pandemic.”
[Sinclair operates seven stations across North Carolina, according to its website. Those include two in Raleigh (WLFL and WRDC) and two in New Bern (WYDD, WCTI).]
“In response to this, we are currently undergoing enterprise-wide reductions across our workforce, including corporate headquarters, to ensure we are well-positioned for future success,” the Sinclair spokesperson added.
The Sinclair spokesperson told CNN Business that the company employs 9,211 employees. A 5% reduction would mean about 460 people will lose their jobs.
Employees were notified of the layoffs in a Wednesday evening memo sent from Chris Ripley, the company’s president and chief executive officer.
“This decision was not made lightly,” Ripley wrote. “Over the last year, we saw many of our peers make reductions en masse, a step we refrained from taking while we took cuts elsewhere, including in capital budgets, discretionary spending, and non-essential expenses.”
Ripley said those “proactive steps” meant the “staff reduction will be significantly smaller” than if the company had not taken such measures. He also said that “impacted staff will receive severance and all will be offered outplacement services.”
Nevertheless, Ripley added, “This is, undoubtedly, one of the most difficult messages of my career.”
“But despite the challenge, I remain immensely proud of the intellect, resourcefulness, and collecting will of our team,” Ripley wrote. “You have proven to be the best team in the business. And, it is this spirit, in each of us and collectively, that I know will carry us through.”
Sinclair, which operates 186 television stations across 87 markets in the United States, reported in February a 7% drop in total revenue for the fourth quarter of 2020, compared to the fourth quarter of 2019.
The company has in the past drawn criticism for pushing a conservative political worldview in its newscasts and programming decisions.