TV station cuts highest paid anchor and others

April 1, 2008 6:29:56 AM PDT
Chicago's WBBM-TV, a CBS-owned station, released what was believed to be the region's highest paid news anchor and a number of other well-known faces in a cost-cutting move. Diann Burns, who is paid $2 million per year, was among those purged.

"I got to be close to a lot of good people there and we put on a lot of great news together," Burns said in a statement. "I wish them well."

Burns' agent and husband, Marc Watts, said the station did not renew her contract.

The Chicago area is the nation's third-largest media market.

In addition to its lead anchor, WBBM on Monday cast off its lead sportscaster, Mark Malone, longtime anchor-turned-health correspondent Mary Ann Childers, as well as several behind-the-scenes personnel.

No department was exempt, Joe Ahern, WBBM president and general manager, told the Chicago Tribune. He said cuts were in the "single-digit" percentage of the WBBM work force of more than 200.

"We have to rethink how we do business," said Ahern, who hired Burns in 2003 in an effort to boost the station's sagging ratings. "All our people are being asked to do more and face the challenges of the future. But that's the dynamics of the business and, frankly, most businesses."

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