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Laid Off Billboard and Hollywood Reporter Staff Go Rogue with Website Post

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Entertainment media giant Valence Media is slashing 35% of its newsroom staff at its Hollywood Reporter, Vibe magazine, and Billboard publications.

In a memo published by Deadline, Valence bosses Asif Satchu and Modi Wiczyk said the decision was a necessary measure amid the current COVID-19 crisis.

“Each of our divisions was affected differently, dependent on the specifics of the business. The greatest impact was on our Media division, which underwent layoffs and a restructuring, part of which was a response to advertising market conditions and part of which was an acceleration of actions that were planned for 2020-2021.

“For all those who transitioned out of the company, we provided severance packages which included six months of extended health care, among other benefits.”

In making the announcement to staff, which included cuts for their companies Dick Clark Productions and Media Rights Capital, the pair revealed they are not taking any salary or participating in the recoupment program created especially for those impacted. The program allows those with their salaries cut to recoup their contributions based on the future success of the company.

“Many of you may ask: what assumptions were made in determining these actions, and are more actions planned for the future?,” continued the memo. “Though these are uncertain times, we made these decisions assuming that our society will emerge from lockdown over the course of the summer and early fall, and that there will be a fairly serious global recession for at least one year. We do not anticipate any more COVID-19 related actions unless conditions fall below that threshold.”

The news has sent some IT staff rogue with a post to the Billboard website. The post, which can be viewed here, uses the below headline and text:

Billboard lays off entire IT staff due to Covid19

In the wake of Covid19 pandemic, Valence Media has decided to lay off their entire web IT staff. Effective today. The online Billboard Charts are essentially perfect, so IT staff are no longer needed. Fat drunk and stupid is no way to go through life…

The header image used is Kent “Flounder” Dorfman from John Landis’ 1978 college comedy National Lampoon’s Animal House. The post itself includes a quote from the film: “Fat drunk and stupid is no way to go through life”.

This particular photograph of Flounder is from the scene below.

Unfortunately, Valence hasn’t been on solid financial ground on late. It’s been reported that both Billboard and THR were together losing US$10M-$15M annually.

Meanwhile, The Hollywood Reporter’s editorial director Matthew Belloni stepped down last week. This was reportedly after disagreements with Valence Media after its request that Belloni go easier on his coverage of its film and celebrity clients.