The media conglomerate Viacom Inc. said Thursday that it will slash about 850 jobs and freeze some senior-level raises in a move to weather the global economic downturn.

The owner of MTV Networks, BET Networks and Paramount Pictures said the job cuts will affect about 7 percent of its work force and hit all departments.

The job cuts and suspension of some raises for senior-level executives in 2009 is expected to generate pretax savings of $200 million to $250 million next year.

The company will take a restructuring charge of $400 million to $450 million before taxes in the fourth quarter.

"The changes we are making in our organization and processes will better position Viacom to navigate the economic slowdown and generate sizable efficiencies that will help us to drive our business as the marketplace stabilizes and conditions improve," president and chief executive Philippe Dauman said in a statement.

Viacom said the moves, as well as a writedown of some programming and other assets, will lead to a fourth-quarter charge of 42 cents to 48 cents per share. The company maintained that it has a "strong balance sheet and substantial cash flow."

Last month Viacom reported that its third-quarter profit fell 37 percent as film studio Paramount Pictures' theatrical revenue fell more than a third and advertising revenue also declined. The company was also hindered by lackluster ratings at MTV.

Viacom shares slipped 16 cents to $15.85 in morning trading after initially rising as high as $16.70.