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Layoffs at VIS-ITV, but I-Race project still in the running

Dundee-based VIS-ITV, an interactive TV joint venture between Scots developer VIS Entertainment and cable operator Telewest, has laid off a number of staff - but the company claims that its main project is still on track.

Dundee-based VIS-ITV, an interactive TV joint venture between Scots developer VIS Entertainment and cable operator Telewest, has laid off a number of staff - but the company claims that its main project is still on track.

A report which appeared on the website of The Scotsman newspaper yesterday suggested that the I-Race project, a virtual horse racing TV channel, had been cancelled and the majority of the staff at VIS-ITV had been laid off.

However, this has been strongly denied by both VIS Entertainment and Telewest, with a Telewest representative informing us that while the company does not comment on speculation, the I-Race project is certainly not cancelled, and an announcement regarding the delayed project will be made shortly.

For its part, VIS Entertainment admitted that some cutbacks have been made at VIS-ITV, but denied that they were anywhere near the 75 per cent layoffs figure quoted by the Scotsman. No final figure for layoffs was available, we were informed yesterday evening, but it would be "significantly lower" than the 20 layoffs reported yesterday.

The cutbacks come as VIS' chief operating officer, Jane Karwoski, leaves the company following an eight month stint in the job. No official reason has been given for her departure, but sources close to the company denied that it is due to a rift between Karwoski and VIS chief executive Chris van der Kuyl.

Instead, we were informed that Karwoski has in fact completed the task which she joined VIS to accomplish - namely implementing a range of cutbacks and cost savings aimed at improving the company's profitability. The past few months have certainly seen cutbacks at the company, with the closure of two studios in the south of England - one on the Isle of Wight, and one in London which had been acquired from Bam Entertainment only a few months previously.

VIS recently raised eyebrows in the industry when it launched an innovative new funding model for the development of State of Emergency 2, which saw the project receiving capital backing directly from investors through the formation of a new company specifically for the game - enabling VIS to complete significant work on the development before shopping around for a publishing deal.

Further Reading: [Karwoski quits as VIS abandons key TV project - The Scotsman]

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