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Disney-ABC Television Group lays off hundreds

January 29, 2009 | 10:20 am

Abcheadquarters

The Disney-ABC Television Group today laid off several hundred people, citing the weakening economy. Group President Anne Sweeney sent an e-mail to the approximately 7,000 television group employees, saying that after months of trying to adjust the business to the worsening economic climate, "we're now faced with the harsh reality of having to eliminate jobs in some areas."

"This was not an easy decision, nor one made lightly," Sweeney wrote. "The people affected today are our friends and colleagues, and we are doing all we can for them and their families."

The announcement comes a day after ESPN Chief Executive George Bodenheimer said he would cut 200 jobs within the year, mostly from unfilled positions. Sports broadcasters have been particularly vulnerable to decisions by struggling automakers to cut spending on advertising. It also comes a week after ABC's move to consolidate its network and television program production divisions into a single entity.

More layoffs are anticipated in the coming months, as ABC Entertainment Group President Stephen McPherson evaluates staffing at the newly consolidated studio and network operation.

"I realize this is an extremely difficult day for everyone in our group," Sweeney wrote. "But despite the challenges before us, I remain confident and optimistic about our future, because you really are the best in the business."

-- Dawn C. Chmielewski

Photo: ABC headquarters in Burbank. Credit: RMA Photography Inc.

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