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4 WB online exex laid off

Studio tries to squelch staffers' fears about doom of Entertaindom

Slow sales and high costs at its e-commerce division has forced Warner Bros. Online and Entertaindom.com to lay off at least four execs, including veep Rikk Galvan.

Staffers at the Web ventures are stirring up rumors that the cutbacks signal Warner Bros. plans to consolidate or phase out Entertaindom, but the studio stressed Thursday that the show will go on at the Netcaster that showcases original programming.

A planned town hall meeting for Sept. 8, to be headed by Kevin Tsujihara, exec veep of new media for Warner Bros., hasn’t helped squelch employee fears, but WB said the meeting had been planned several months ago.

The regular town hall meetings between senior executives and online troops are held to maintain an open dialog, the studio said. They were started by former Entertaindom topper Jim Moloshok.

“We never comment on personnel matters, but I can assure you that our e-commerce unit is still very much open for business,” said one Warner Bros. official, who also said that there is no connection between the layoffs and coming town hall meeting.

Galvan, who joined Warner Bros. Online as one of its first employees nearly six years ago, reported to Rich Sutton, senior veep of sales and client marketing for Warner Bros. Online and Entertaindom. Sutton will continue to oversee e-commerce operations, which have recently seen expenses exceed revenues.

Cutbacks were necessary

The newly eliminated posts do indicate that certain e-commerce elements — advertising, pay-per-view events, auctions, digital downloads — are being scaled back on the Entertaindom site, which has undergone several management and directional changes since toppers Moloshok, Jim Banister and Jeff Weiner left earlier this year.

“Everybody there is totally freaked out and they think it’s only the beginning,” said one of the laid-off employees, who has already found a new job. “They just want to know what is going on.”

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