Disney Said Cutting 2.3% of Positions at ABC TV Division

Walt Disney Co.’s ABC television division is cutting about 175 jobs as part of a restructuring of the broadcast business, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

The cuts amount to about 2.3 percent of the unit’s approximately 7,600 employees, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the numbers aren’t being announced. ABC lost about 10 percent of its prime-time viewers in a key audience demographic last season.

The move follows several hundred job cuts at Disney’s ESPN and the film and interactive divisions. ABC is eliminating positions as the network rolls out new technology, including a Watch ABC application for mobile devices that provides a live-stream of its broadcast. The primary areas affected will be ABC operations and owned stations in eight markets, including New York and Los Angeles, the person said.

“As technological advances continue to alter the competitive landscape and viewer habits, it’s incumbent upon us to stay ahead of the curve,” Burbank, California-based ABC said today in an e-mailed statement. “To that end, we’ve undergone a review of our organizational structures and processes.”

The restructuring will begin tomorrow and take about a week to complete, the person said. Changes will occur across the Disney/ABC Television Group, which includes the Disney Channel and ABC Family cable networks, the person said. Some new positions may also be created, the person said.

TV Ratings

Disney, owner of theme parks in California and Florida, had about 166,000 employees at the end of September 2012, according to a company filing.

ABC finished the prime-time TV season in May last among the major broadcast networks in viewers ages 18 to 49, the group most targeted by advertisers, according to Nielsen data. The network averaged 7.84 million total viewers a night for second place among the four major U.S. broadcast networks.

Disney, the world’s largest entertainment company, fell 1.2 percent to $61.14 at the close in New York. The stock has gained 23 percent this year, beating the 15 percent gain of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

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