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Fusion refocuses TV slate, lays off 30

The floor at the Doral-based Fusion.
The floor at the Doral-based Fusion. MIAMI HERALD FILE

After announcing a change in programming priorities in September, the Doral-based Fusion, a joint venture between Univision and the Walt Disney-owned ABC News, has revamped its overall television schedule and laid off 30 full-time employees.

In a memo sent to staff on Sept. 10, Fusion CEO Isaac Lee announced “we have recently spent time examining our TV operations and programming strategy” and settled on three priorities for 2016: the presidential election, investigative specials and topical comedy. In the works are 12 new enterprise projects and an eight-hour miniseries about the global black market, tentatively titled Traffic.

“Ultimately these changes mean we’ll be saying goodbye to some of our colleagues,” Lee wrote in the email.

Come Here and Say That, the pop culture show hosted by Alicia Menendez and produced at the network’s 150,000-square-foot headquarters in Doral, was canceled. Menendez, who left HuffPost Live to join Fusion in 2013, will cover the election and immigration issues. She will file reports for Fusion’s flagship weekly news show America with Jorge Ramos, as well as the network’s various online platforms.

Also gone are Soccer Gods, the weekday sports show hosted by Simon Carr and Nando Vila, which has gone digital only (via podcast and online). The Cannabusiness Report with Ryan Nerz, which centered on the mainstreaming of marijuana, recently ended its second season. No decision has been made on a third season.

The late-night news show No, You Shut Up! has been renewed for a fourth season. Nightline on Fusion, a collaboration between Fusion and ABC News, continues to air every Wednesday night.

Launched in 2013 as an attempt to reach the elusive millennial audience via TV and online, Fusion currently reaches 25 million people a month across all platforms (cable, online, services such as Apple TV and Roku). Traffic to fusion.net, where all of the network’s programming is available, is up from 5.8 million visitors since launch in July to 8.3 million in September, according to Lee. In September, Fusion won three awards from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists for investigative and feature news.

Executives at Univision, which is preparing to unveil its IPO offering this fall, and Fusion declined to comment for this story. According to an SEC report filed earlier this year, Fusion generated $28 million in revenue and spent $63 million in 2014 for a loss of $35 million.

Rene Rodriguez: 305-376-3611, @ReneMiamiHerald

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