Up to 100 television newsroom jobs are to go in a radical shakeup at ITV Meridian.
The cuts across the region, which will affect Maidstone Studios, are among a national cull of around 430 newsroom jobs.
But Meridian is bearing the brunt of the move with nearly a quarter of all newsroom job losses.
Iain McBride, the National Union of Journalists’ joint father of chapel in Maidstone, said: "It’s a grim day for regional news. Across ITV, it’s carnage."
Mark Southgate, managing director of ITV Meridian, gave staff the dismal news at meetings across the region earlier on Tuesday.
He said that nationally current staff numbers of 1,075 would be cut to 646, with ITV Meridian losing 97 staff.
The Meridian region is being split into two: east - covering Kent, Medway and parts of Sussex - and west - covering the south and Thames Valley.
ITV Meridian’s newsroom in Maidstone currently employs 25 staff but they are fighting to keep job cuts to a minimum, claiming that the east already has fewer staff than the west.
They also argue that Meridian should not expect staff from the main studio in Whiteley, Hampshire, to drive three hours to cover, for example, a Channel Tunnel story.
Mr McBride said: "We are reasonably optimistic that if the company listens to reason we can still preserve a significant level of news-gathering in the Maidstone area.
"We are determined to prevent any job cuts but equally in terms of making a new-lok programme we need a suitable level of resources to deliver quality programmes."
The cuts are designed to slash millions of pounds from troubled ITV’s cost base.
An ITV spokesman said that it would consider applications for voluntary redundancy. "We anticipate that applications for jobs will be made in October, selection in November and people should know by early December," he said.
The NUJ warned that industrial action would be "inevitable" if the company did not "engage with the trade unions in a meaningful way".
Viewers will also feel some of the pain as the flagship news show Meridian Tonight reduces its coverage of Kent and Medway news from early next year.
The programme, which will be a single edition instead of three, will feature 15 minutes of news about anywhere in the region, followed by a 15-minute insert for Kent, Medway and parts of Sussex.
The cuts follow a report by Ofcom, the television and radio regulator, relaxing the rules governing ITV’s obligation to public service broadcasting. Hours of regional news coverage are being slashed from 5 hours 45 minutes to 3 hours 30 minutes.