ABC makes downsizing move

NEW YORK — ABC has laid off about 100 employees and eliminated another 100 or so positions that were vacant.

The downsizing is “extremely modest,” said Preston Padden, president of the ABC TV network, referring to the 5,000 people on the ABC payroll who will not be affected by the layoffs.

A spokeswoman said about half of the 100 dismissed workers are leaving voluntarily after accepting buyout offers from ABC. The layoffs range throughout the entire network, she said, from entertainment, news and sports to sales, marketing and engineering.

The network’s primetime schedule has fallen to third place in the last year, behind that of NBC and CBS, but the spokeswoman said the dismissals “are part of our ongoing effort to operate more efficiently.”

The timing of the layoffs reflects the September-to-September fiscal year that ABC’s parent company Walt Disney operates under, according to the spokeswoman, adding that there’ll be no more downsizing in 1997.

One surprise in the cutbacks, according to sources, was David Elliot, who was considered ABC’s No. 1 expert in digital technology, which could bring revolutionary changes in network broadcasting by ushering in an era of high-definition television, featuring crystal-clear pictures and CD-quality sound.

An ABC source downplays any notion that ABC will be weakened by the departure of Elliot, saying that the network has other staffers with solid expertise in the digital arena.

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