Rumors of pending layoffs at Viacom have been floating around for weeks now. The media conglomerate is in terrible debt, and just yesterday announced that it's canceling its holiday parties from coast to coast. Today, a tipster has sent us an internal memo from Bob Bakish, the head of MTV Networks, that grimly alludes to "unprecedented economic challenges" that have caused a hiring freeze, and will affect spending "dramatically" through the entire coming year. Will the company start off the new year with a round of layoffs? Eminently possible. Bakish's full internal email, after the jump:

From: Alexander, Linda-LA Sent: Tuesday, November 04, 2008 2:29 PM To: All at MTVNI O&O Cc: [A bunch of people] Subject: On behalf of Bob Bakish - IMPORTANT Team: We are living in a time of unprecedented economic challenges. It is clear that the global economic slow down is real and will take us into next year. With that in mind, we need to dramatically reduce our spending for the balance of the year and for 2009. Senior managers across the regions and strategic services have been given this message and are in the process of identifying savings opportunities. As you know, we have suspended all hiring (including staff, temps and freelancers) and instituted significant restrictions on discretionary items such as on travel, entertainment, consulting, third party services and the like. I know these actions are not pleasant and delivering this message is not easy. However, it is the right thing to do. We, like others around us in media and the general business community, have no choice but to respond quickly to this difficult environment. It is only with this type of response that we can ensure our Brands will continue to prosper and provide our global consumers the innovative content they want and our partners the unique value they expect. In addition, as many of you read in Philippe Dauman and Tom Dooley's e-mail, our company will be forgoing all divisional, regional and corporate holiday parties and instead giving all employees, including everyone internationally two additional vacation days to be used during your respective holiday season as coordinated with your respective supervisor. We feel in times like these, giving our employees the extra time to spend with family and loved ones is much appreciated. Again, I know this is not easy but we are not alone and we will make it through. Thanks as always for focusing on driving us forward — even in this period where going forward means spending less. Bob

[Pic: AP via Valleywag]