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The Walt Disney Co. continues to struggle financially after a series of decisions involving content and following a high-profile battle with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).
According to reports, Disney is planning on laying off as many as 15 percent of its entertainment workforce, following an announcement by CEO Bob Iger two months ago that they were coming.
Iger revealed plans to lay off 7,000 workers in a “strategic realignment” aimed at cost reduction. The layoffs, which take effect on Monday, will impact workers across various divisions, including television, film, theme parks, corporate, and entertainment, Bloomberg News reported.
“For our employees who aren’t impacted, I want to acknowledge that there will no doubt be challenges ahead as we continue building the structures and functions that will enable us to be successful moving forward,” Iger told staff members in March. “In tough moments, we must always do what is required to ensure Disney can continue delivering exceptional entertainment to audiences and guests around the world, now, and long into the future.”
As part of Iger’s shift towards prioritizing franchise properties and well-established brands, the company’s entertainment unit is expected to bear the brunt of the layoffs. To oversee the restructured department, Iger promoted Alan Bergman and Dana Walden, two experienced executives, as co-chairs of Disney Entertainment earlier this year.
In addition to the layoffs, Disney is implementing a restructuring plan for its finance department, which involves closer consolidation of staff managing accounts for Disney Entertainment and ESPN. As per a memo obtained by Business Insider, Bryan Castellani will serve as the finance lead for both business units under Disney CFO Christine McCarthy.
“I am confident that we are building an even more aligned and collaborative team that will enable our businesses and functions and help the company achieve its stated goals. Please join me in supporting the leaders who are taking on new roles and additional responsibilities. Each will be sharing more about their respective teams and structure in the near future,” McCarthy wrote in the memo.
“While our changes are necessary to set the company up for future success, I acknowledge that change can be filled with tough decisions, conversations, and realities. There is more work to be done, and I appreciate your continued efforts, resiliency, and outstanding contributions through this time,” he added.
After a period of lackluster financial performance under his leadership, former Disney CEO Bob Chapek, who was handpicked by Iger to succeed him in February 2020, was dismissed by the board of directors. Iger was appointed as his replacement in November 2022.
Over the past year, the company’s stock price has fallen by 17%, while several other major entertainment and technology companies have also had to lay off significant portions of their workforce.
The company’s decline has come amid an increase in so-called “woke” content offerings and a feud under Chapek’s reign with DeSantis regarding a law aimed at protecting young students from inappropriate sexual content.
“Disney publicly opposed a parental rights law in Florida that bans instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity to children between kindergarten and third grade. Some 64% of Americans, including 62% of Democrats and 57% of independents, nevertheless supported the law, according to an exclusive poll from The Daily Wire,” the outlet reported.
Earlier this month, DeSantis said he was planning new legislative and administrative actions against the Walt Disney Co. after it secretly negotiated an agreement with an outgoing management board to retain control over the vast swaths of land surrounding its Orlando theme park site.
“Come hell or high water, we’re going to make sure that policy of Florida carries the day. And so, they can keep trying to do things. But ultimately, we’re going to win on every single issue involving Disney, I can tell you that,” DeSantis said during a speech this week. “They are not superior to the people of Florida.”
DeSantis, along with the GOP-controlled legislature, is threatening to levy new tolls on roads leading into the park as well as additional taxes on Disney’s hotels.
“The Republican governor also vowed the state legislature, which his party controls, would undo Disney’s agreements with the oversight board it controlled before authority switched to a board DeSantis appointed,” the Daily Mail reported.