Job Cuts at ESPN

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    TK
    Getty Images for NASCAR
    BRISTOL, CT - FEBRUARY 06: NASCAR Gen-6 cars on display at ESPN headquarters on February 6, 2013 in Bristol, Connecticut as part of the Road to Daytona Tour. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images for NASCAR)

    ESPN, which is based in Bristol, Connecticut, is cutting its workforce and the cuts started today.

    The company has not provided a number of how many employees are being laid off, but issued a statement.   

    “We are implementing changes across the company to enhance our continued growth while smartly managing costs.  While difficult, we are confident that it will make us more competitive, innovative and productive," ESPN said in a statement sent by e-mail on Tuesday.

    The changes being implemented are worldwide, according to ESPN, which employs more than 4,000 employees in Bristol and 7,000 worldwide.

    One report by Deadspin puts the number of layoffs around 400, but also cites an ESPN source as saying that number was high. 

    The Associated Press reports that the jobs being eliminated include unfilled positions.

    ESPN was the third company to take advantage of the state’s “First Five” economic development program and committed to expanding, including breaking ground on the new Digital Center 2, the 19th and largest building on ESPN’s Bristol, creating a minimum of 200 new full-time jobs within five years.

    As part of the deal, the state pledged to provide a 10-year, $17.5 million loan from the Department of Economic and Community Development for the construction of the facility and the creation of at least 200 jobs and up to $1.2 million to fund a job training grant program ranging from $300,000 for 200 jobs created to $150,000 for each additional 100 jobs created up to 800 jobs.

    The construction project is not being affected, according to ESPN.

    "Notwithstanding these changes, we remain on track to reach the increase in jobs that are set out in the goals in the `First Five' program," Mike Soltys, Vice President of U.S. Network Communications, said.

    ABC, Inc., an indirect subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, owns 80 percent of ESPN, while Hearst Corporation owns 20 percent.

    This is the latest in a series of recent job cuts at several Disney divisions, according to  the Associated Press, and ESPN specifically has seen costs increase with skyrocketing prices for the broadcasting rights to live sports.

    When Disney released its second-quarter earnings on May 7, the company reported that operating income at cable networks increased $224 million to $1.7 billion for the quarter due to growth at ESPN.   
     

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