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Rakesh198
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By HOLLY M. SANDERS

Posted: 3:15 am
October 18, 2008

The Peacock is preparing for a painful 2009.

NBC Universal head honcho Jeff Zucker is looking to slice $500 million in expenses, or 3 percent of the company's overall budget, ahead of next year. The cuts will come across all divisions, including the flagship broadcast network, cable channels Bravo and USA and the Universal film studio and theme parks.

"We are living in a time of unprecedented economic challenges, and it is increasingly clear that the worldwide economic slowdown will continue well into next year," Zucker wrote in an internal memo sent to employees late yesterday. "As we have been working on our budgets and planning for 2009, it has become evident that the decline in consumer confidence and spending will impact our operations."

Zucker is asking managers to look for ways to cut staff and other costs, including travel, entertainment, promotional expenses and outside consultants. Major purchases will also need to go through the procurement department, he said.

Third-quarter profit at NBC Universal, part of conglomerate General Electric, rose 10 percent while revenue jumped 35 percent, largely because of NBC's broadcast of the Beijing Olympics. Still, economic uncertainty has gripped the media business as industry watchers predict a serious drop in ad spending.

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