Commentary

Media Mergers: Top TV Execs Usually Safe, Mid-Level Staffers Suffer

The total U.S. unemployment rate is at a historically low 3.7% -- with iffy wage growth. But are media companies dealing with the same labor statistics? It has been a while since we had massive big media company layoffs -- like in the thousands. Top media executives are still finding work.

In merging Fox businesses into Walt Disney, the house of the mouse will be giving work to senior Fox executives Peter Rice, Dana Walden, John Landgraf and Gary Knell.

Rice has been named chairman of Walt Disney Television-co-chair, Disney Media Networks; Walden, chairman of Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment; Landgraf continues to be chairman of FX Networks/FX Productions; and Knell chairman of National Geographic Partners.

Whew. I was worried. (They get health insurance too, no?)

But of course, there have been departing executives as well. Ben Sherwood, currently co-chair of Disney Media Networks-president of Disney-ABC Television Group, is leaving his post, replaced by Rice and Walden. But Sherwood could get a role at Comcast Corp., recently approved to buy up Sky U.K, according to reports.

Some reports are predicting “thousands” could be laid off at Disney, due to the acquisition of Fox businesses. Back in December, Rich Greenfield, media analyst at BTIG Research, says it could be between 5,000 and 10,000 job losses. No official word yet.

Unrelated to this, Disney already laid off around 50 employees last month from its Consumer Products and Interactive Media group. In other recent media layoffs: Comcast laid off around 500 employees just before Christmas 2017; AT&T departed with 600 employees, also around the same time.

We can assume major media mergers always result in “cost savings” to some degree. Imagine Disney and/or what remains of the old Fox will scale down, or readjust, staffing.

According to Pew Research Center, 36% of the largest U.S. newspapers, as well as at least 23% of the highest-traffic digital-native news outlets, experienced layoffs between January 2017 and April 2018.

Here is a question to ponder: Are media mergers still the cause of unemployment? Is there more growth with faster-moving digital media positions?

One rough estimate says a total media unemployment rate is around 7% -- when looking at a wide variety of jobs, levels of positions and industries. That’s higher than the national average. And wage growth? Another question mark. Does any of this make you feel better?

2 comments about "Media Mergers: Top TV Execs Usually Safe, Mid-Level Staffers Suffer".
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  1. Adam Schorr from Self, October 10, 2018 at 2:49 p.m.

    Loaded question 

  2. Adam Schorr from Self, October 10, 2018 at 2:49 p.m.

    Loaded question 

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