Bristol-based ESPN to cut about 300 positions - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Bristol-based ESPN to cut about 300 positions

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(MGN photo) (MGN photo)

Sports broadcasting giant ESPN said it plans to cut hundreds of jobs to better support its future.

The Bristol-based company made the announcement on Wednesday.

“Beginning [Wednesday], we will be enacting a number of organizational changes at ESPN to better support our future goals – a process that will include the elimination of a number of positions, impacting  friends and colleagues across the organization,” said John Skipper, president of ESPN.

CNN reported that about 300 employees, or nearly 4 percent of ESPN’s global workforce, will be impacted. Two hundred of those will be at its Bristol headquarters.

Employees were informed in an internal memo on Wednesday.

Skipper said in an online news release that the company carefully considered and deliberated alternatives before making each decision.

“We will be as supportive as we can during this transition, including providing a minimum of 60-days notice, a severance package reflective of their years of service, and outplacement benefits to help them find future employment,” he said.

Skipper said he realized that the process would be difficult, but that the steps would lead to competitive advantages for the business over the long term.

Industry experts said television profits are down as people skip cable bundles for cheaper TV packages with fewer channels.

This marked the second wave of big layoffs for the company. ESPN announced 300 job cuts two years ago.

"First and foremost you are disappointed for the folks but i'll make a prediction they'll be hiring again within a year," said Gov. Dannel Malloy.

The state is banking on ESPN's success. In 2011, the sports giant received $10 million in tax incentives to build a new digital center as long as they created 200 jobs.

Both ESPN and the state said that despite the current layoffs, the company is well above that criteria.

"The construct of our deal with ESPN is a tax credit for 10 years," said Catherine Smith, Commissioner of the Department of Economic Development. "So that's $10 million they earn year by year, so if their numbers drop dramatically they won't earn as many tax credits."

The state's unemployment for September was 5.2 percent, close to the national rate. However, that's still improved from a year ago.

"We have gained 7,000 jobs in July and August but lost 7,000 jobs in September," said Joe Brennan, Connecticut Business and Industry Association. "We don't want to see good news, bad news. We want to see sustained growth."

ESPN, in the meantime, said it is simply looking to get past this round of layoffs.

“I sincerely appreciate your professionalism and continued support as we move forward to ensure the continued success of ESPN and assure sports fans everywhere the best is yet to come,” he said.

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