"The charge was taken in the fourth quarter ," a Nielsen spokesman explained, adding, "A clear majority of the headcount reduction notifications have already taken place, either in the fourth quarter of last year, or early this year. The rest will occur during the rest of this year."
He added that the majority of the reductions affected Nielsen operations outside the U.S., and estimated that Nielsen's worldwide workforce would be in the "35,000 to 36,000" range.
The most recent round of restructuring follows several years of downsizing, streamlining, and outsourcing that began with Nielsen Co.'s so-called "Project Forward," and has been accelerated by the global downturn in the economy and the media and consumer marketing industries that Nielsen relies on.
The worst hit of Nielsen's operations has been its business media unit, including publications such as Adweek, Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter, which was total revenues slide more than 10% during 2008 while Nielsen's media research operations grew more than 10% and consumer research rose more than 7%.
For 2008, Nielsen reported an operating loss of $251 million for its business media operations, which was offset by $224 million in operating income from its media research, and $259 million form its consumer research, resulting in a net operating income of $118 million for the company overall.