Job cuts the latest in string at Mouse House as company prepares itself for digital change
Walt Disney is preparing to eliminate approximately 175 positions at its Disney/ ABC Television Group, according to a person familiar with the situation, the latest in a string of cutbacks across its operations. Previous trims have taken place at the company’s ESPN and film operations as the Mouse House tries to align its employee roster with the types of of business it expects to do in the months ahead.
The Disney/ABC Television Group encompasses the company’s ABC broadcast network, its owned-and-operated stations, and cable networks including ABC Family and Disney Channel. The layoffs are expected to affect positions among technical operations as well as the unit’s eight local stations, this person said. The stations are located in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Houston, the Raleigh- Durham metro area in North Carolina and Fresno.
“As technological advances continue to alter the competitive landscape and viewer habits, it’s incumbent upon us to stay ahead of the curve,” a spokesman for the unit said in a prepared statement. ” To that end, we’ve undergone a review of our organizational structures and processes, and have re-imagined and realigned certain areas and functions to gain efficiencies and better position us for future growth.”
Disney has steadily enacted layoffs at its business units in past months, trimming 400 at ESPN and 300 jobs at LucasArts, Lucasfilm and across Walt Disney Studios. Last fall, the Mouse House laid off more than at its interactive division. The strategy aims to rid the company of jobs deemed to no longer be as essential, even as Disney stock has flourished. At ABC, some jobs may be eliminated, but other opportunities could become available that require different skill sets, according to the person familiar with the situation.
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The initiative has borne fruit for the Mouse in the recent past. Hundreds of people were laid off at ABC News in 2010, but the division has shown new strength, with “Good Morning America” surpassing NBC’s “Today” in the ratings, ABC’s “World News” narrowing the ratings gap with NBC’s “Nightly News” and new business in the forms of both ana an alliance with Yahoo and a new cable network, Fusion, set to launch backed by both ABC and Univision.