More log off at ABC.com

Marketing, business development, online advertising hit hardest

This article was updated on Oct. 23, 2001.

The Walt Disney Co. said Monday it has handed out another round of pinkslips at its ABC.com division as its sites are turned into more promotional venues.

The Mouse House declined to disclose just how many jobs were cut at its Burbank office, but some employees estimated that roughly 85% of the division’s 50 to 70 employees were affected.

In a memo to staff, Walt Disney Internet group prexy Steve Wadsworth said the site will be restructured as a promotional online home for the ABC television network. The sites had previously offered news and other entertainment content.

The ABCNews.com and Enhanced TV arms in New York were left fairly untouched. Those in marketing, business development and online advertising were hit hardest.

Other affected staffers are likely to include individuals who worked for entertainment news site Mr. Showbiz, which the Walt Disney Internet Group shuttered and merged with ABC.com this month.

Bad ad climate

The reason for the layoffs, as with those at other online units of media majors, is the poor online advertising market, which has only deteriorated since Sept. 11.

Since Disney decided earlier this year to break up the Walt Disney Internet Group and fold control of its television-based Web sites back under its TV networks, management of the sites have been trying to find ways to cut costs. Pinkslips were handed out then.

A Disney spokesman said Monday’s move was a way to save money but still maintain a robust site with a smaller staff. Company does not plan on shuttering ABC.com entirely.

ABC.com is a unit of the ABC Internet Group, which also include sites ABCNews.com, interactive TV venture Enhanced TV and Oscar.com.

(Josef Adalian contributed to this report.)

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