Jay Leno takes a 50% pay cut

jay leno
Comedian Jay Leno arrives to the Vanity Fair Oscar Party at the Sunset Tower on February 26, 2012 in West Hollywood, California.

NBC has cut the budget at The Tonight Show, and Jay Leno is taking it on the chin.

The late-night star has agreed to take a 50% pay cut, an NBC spokeswoman said Friday. She said she could not provide a dollar figure for Leno's new salary.

The move came as part of a 20% cut to the show's annual budget, taking it down to around $80 million through moves that also included the layoffs of around 20 staffers.

The news was reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal, which pegged Leno's new salary at $15 million.

The NBC spokeswoman said the show's budget increased when it made a short-lived move to prime time in 2009, and that the cuts brought it back in line with previous levels.

The $1M electric supercar - from Croatia
The $1M electric supercar - from Croatia

Even back at its 11:35 p.m. ET time slot, however, the show remains buffeted by competition from fellow late-night programs and online content. An NBC spokesman said the program was pulling in an average of 3.66 million viewers each night, down 5% from the previous season.

NBC is a division of NBCUniversal, in which Comcast (CMCSA) owns a majority stake.

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