MTV Networks Germany in Berlin has laid off 20 employees and adopted a strict cost-cutting course.

Shows previously produced in Germany for MTV and VIVA are now being externally sourced from Berlin-based production company Strandgutmedia, which is owned by A-Medialynx in Berlin. MTV declined to tell whether there would be any further reductions in the current 260-strong headcount.

"The decision to outsource the production of formats such as MTV Home and VIVA Live! as well as the hosted music formats will give MTV Networks greater flexibility in its production and contract-awarding activities and allow it to acquire new content from partnered production companies," said Marie-Blanche Stössinger, head of corporate communications at MTV Networks Central and North Europe, in a statement.

She reported that with the optimized deployment of resources it would be possible to maintain the local relevance of brands such as MTV and VIVA. Discussing the layoffs, Stössinger said: "We always endeavor to find internal solutions for the employees affected by restructuring. We would be pleased if some of them were to find employment at Strandgutmedia. However, this is solely up to A-Medialynx to decide."

According to sources from within MTV, the cuts affect all parts of MTV Germany, including editorial, production, online and talent and music activities. Further talks are ongoing with the employee representatives concerning the scope of additional layoffs. Dan Ligtvoet, managing director of MTV Networks Germany, declined to comment on the latest developments.

Stössinger insisted that outsourcing would not have any effect on MTV's music formats, stating that it would continue to broadcast such well-known formats as "MTV Home," "Game One," "Viva Live," "brand:neu" and "Viva Spezial." Similarly, it would be retaining "Viva Neu" and "Viva Top100."

However, industry experts assume that Viva could withdraw from music altogether in the long term and instead broadcast inexpensive U.S. series. "This offers a great deal of potential for savings," one MTV manager told

MTV has retained the services of Strandgutmedia to supply content. Ist managing director Andreas Geier was VP at MTV Networks Productions in Berlin for many years. According to sources in the live entertainment industry, Geier and his staff are working on plans to broadcast the open-air festivals "Rock am Ring" and "MTV Campus Invasion."

MTV Central has been broadcasting in the German language since 1997 and reaches 35 million households in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. VIVA reaches in the same area over 36 million households, according to MTV Networks in Berlin.