*Direct Media Cuts 30 Jobs

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Acxiom/Direct Media laid off 30 associates today, roughly 5 percent of its staff, as part of a cost-cutting plan that is intended to bring expenses in line with revenue at the largest list brokerage and management firm in the United States.

The affected associates were notified this morning, said Acxiom/Direct Media CEO Steve Brighton, who planned to inform the rest of the company around noon. The layoffs are part of a restructuring plan that commenced with the purchase of Direct Media, Greenwich, CT, by information services provider Acxiom, Conway, AR, in March 1996. Brighton said all but one of the layoffs were in the Greenwich office. DMI employs 620 people, including its international operations and data-processing team at Acxiom headquarters.

DMI reviewed every one of its critical and noncritical job functions to determine which jobs could be eliminated. The cuts came across the nine key business processes the company identified in its review. Positions were combined in some cases and eliminated in others. Technological advances at DMI have eliminated the need for staff in certain areas. A team of 10 programmers is in the process of automating the list firm's order entry, accounting and datacard systems.

"We've been re-engineering this thing for 2 1/2 years and we've installed about half the automation,'' Brighton said. "We can now afford to tighten the belt and trim our head count a little bit."

The job cuts are the first since the merger but the second such action in the last three years. In 1995, DMI outsourced 30 associates to Acxiom, which picked up all salaries.

Brighton doesn't plan or anticipate any further reductions. DMI experiences normal attrition of seven to eight staff members a month, and future downsizing would be accomplished by not filling vacant positions. He said the layoffs aren't a sign of financial trouble.

"We have most of our lines of business growing rapidly and we'll have a record year this year in terms of revenue,'' he said. "This is a tendency in a client-dependent business, when you automate you have to every now and then look at what you need and don't need."

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