Mainstream media look to slash millions from TV personality salaries as viewership drops

"The trend is to get rid of people with big salaries and replace them with people they can pay considerably less."

Katie Daviscourt Seattle WA

Major television networks are considering slashing the salaries of major TV personalities in an effort to save money as cable news viewership plummets. 

From CNN to Fox News and other mainstream media organizations, securing a hefty multi-million dollar contract will soon be a long-distant dream, as TV executives can no longer afford to pay such a significant sum as the once highly regarded industry declines. 

Top TV anchors have been raking in cash and have been paid anywhere between a few million dollars per year to an astounding $30 million, which is MSNBC's Rachel Maddow's annual salary, per The Ankler. 

Fox News's Sean Hannity has made an estimated $25 million per year, while CNN's Anderson Cooper usually takes home an annual amount of $20 to $25 million. 

Cable news networks make most of their money through advertisements and affiliate fees, but over the past several years, revenue has plummeted due to distrust in mainstream media and individuals seeking out alternative news sources via social media and the digital web. Mediaite reports that the number of US households paying for traditional TV subscriptions dropped below half of all residences. 

CNN's new chief Mark Thompson, who came from Great Britain, was shocked to find out how much money TV personalities are paid in the US. Thompson previously worked at the BBC and the New York Times, where salaries are much smaller than those at US-owned cable news stations, according to The Ankler. 

Since taking over the failing network, Thompson has been strategizing on how to cut down the costs. He pulled his first major move earlier this month and killed off CNN personality Chris Licht's morning show CNN This Morning due to bad ratings. Now, Licht and the production staff are all out of jobs, another sign of cost-cutting. 

"The trend is to get rid of people with big salaries and replace them with people they can pay considerably less. You can see it on air and off air," a source familiar with the negotiations told The Ankler. 

Thompson wants to "fund his digital-first transformation by cutting anchor salaries," according to The Wrap, which reportedly sparked a panic within the network. 

Over the past few years, mass layoffs have occurred at nearly all mainstream networks including CNN, MSNBC, NBC, Fox News, CBS News, and ABC News. 

A source told Mediate that other networks will likely take Thompson's approach and said: "The business model is evolving; they’re looking at all costs including talent." 

The solution, according to the outlet, is to cut costs while profits are still high. 

Tensions between prominent stars and the rank and file are "percolating," an industry insider told Mediaite. 

"They’re starting to look at each other. It’s like Survivor," they said. "A relatively small pay cut for the highest-paid talent could save dozens of jobs — and make the product better."

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