EXCLUSIVE: Ovation laid off employees in its Santa Monica office Friday, a month after Time Warner dumped the arts channel from its lineup citing poor ratings and a less-than-compelling programming slate. Reps would not confirm the size of today’s staff cuts but sources say layoffs hit 20-25 employees — almost a fourth of its 95-person corps. Chief Creative Officer Robert Weiss confirms to Deadline that the layoffs are the first wave of a company-wide reorganization that will affect its LA, Chicago, and New York offices as Ovation whittles its resources in order to relaunch stronger programming initiatives in 2013 and 2014, a must if the six-year-old cable arts outpost is going to survive the Time Warner blow-off.
Ovation’s 2012 slate was light on original programming (A Chance To Dance, Motor City Rising) but Weiss says that razing the ground will allow Ovation to strategically rebuild its ranks, with promotions and key senior hires to come. The cable TV vet has been on the job for just two months now, but is eyeing the arts programming void left behind by Bravo and A&E and plans to bump the network’s slate to feature marquee US premiere acquisitions and three to four original international co-productions later this year.