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Disney Cuts 200 Positions At ABC; 200 Open Posts To Remain Vacant; 200 More At ESPN

Disney (NYSE: DIS) is handing out 200 pink slips ABC and will not fill 200 other open positions at the network, Reuters reported. Last week, the company said it was merging ABC Entertainment and ABC Studios into one unit. An ABC rep at the time told me that digital would not be affected by the combo. It’s not clear where the job cuts would come from and if it would touch the digital operations. The reason for the cuts, of course, is due to the down ad market. The layoffs represent about 5 percent of Disney’s 6,500 to 7,000 total employees. Separately, another Disney subsidiary, ESPN, said that it will shed 200 jobs from its 5,700-member global workforce.

Staci adds: Most of ESPN’s cuts will come from leaving jobs unfilled during a hiring freeze. According to AP, George Bodenheimer, president, ESPN and ABC Sports, told employees Wednesday about the freeze and other measures being taken to handle the economic downturn; layoffs haven’t been ruled out. It’s not a total pullback: Bodenheimer also talked of continued investments in the U.S. and internationally. An ESPN spokesman told us: “George outlined steps we are taking to ensure that we emerge out of tough economic times a stronger company.”

The moves come ahead of parent Disney’s earnings report next Tuesday and follow the news that the company has offered buyouts to 600 theme park execs.