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Jay Leno Takes A Pay Cut While NBC Lays Off Employees

Submitted by on August 20, 2012 – 7:20 am Comments

Jay LenoOn Friday, NBC laid off nearly two dozen staff from “The Tonight Show.” The layoffs come thanks to the increasing competition that late-night talk shows face with cable TV. The layoffs are part of an effort to do some major budgeting on the show. Many of the staff accepted salary cuts in the wake of the new budgets, most notably, Jay Leno, the host of “The Tonight Show.”

Prior to the large salary cuts, Leno reportedly earned between $20 million and $25 million. He accepted the large pay cuts in order to save numerous other jobs that were on the line. Leno’s agent, Bruce Bobbins said that Leno’s main concern is for the people he works with and he did what he had to so that they had job security. The show is now staffed by just fewer than 200 people.

In 2009, the cost of “The Tonight Show” grew when it was shifted to a 10 PM time slot in order to gain more of NBC’s prime-time audience. The experiment was a bust and the show returned to its original 11:30 PM time slot, though it kept the high budget.

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All of this comes while late-night audiences are dwindling thanks to competition from the Web and cable shows. One example is “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” on Viacom Inc.’s Comedy Central. According to Brad Adgate, the head researcher for Horizon Media there is no longer a dominate late-night king anymore. While “The Tonight Show” is still a top-rated show for late night, its audience last year had fallen from 3.9 million viewers to 3.7 million according to Nielsen data provided by NBC. “Late Show With David Letterman” also lost viewers, dropping from 3.4 million viewers to only 3 million. However, “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” gained viewers, 5% actually. They now average 2.1 million viewers. “The Colbert Report,” which airs after “The Daily Show” increased as well, up 7% to 1.5 million viewers.

Jay Leno and Ryan Lochte

“The Tonight Show” is not alone in its budget cuts. CBS recently cut the licensing fees that it pays to the company that produces the “Late Show.” Letterman also ended up with a pay cut.

Leno replaced Johnny Carson in 1992 as the host of “The Tonight Show.” He remained at the head of the show for 17 years before he left in 2009 to try his hand at the 10 PM time slot with “The Jay Leno Show.” Just a few short months after the move, NBC announced that the late night veteran would be returning to his previous time slot. The move was an attempt by the network to turn Leno’s popularity into a commercially successful show. Low ratings caused the NBC executives to nix the idea. The entire situation led to fellow talk show host Conan O’Brien leaving NBC. Conan now hosts a show “Conan” on TBS, which is a division of Time Warner.

Keaven Neely

Keaven is a stay at home mother of two little girls. She writes her blog This Mama Is Crazy and also sells her arts and crafts on her Etsy site. Writer of “The No BS Zone”

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