George Bodenheimer Reminds Bristol Of The Wintry Economic Climate We're In

This afternoon ESPN President George Bodenheimer addressed his troops via video on ESPN's corporate intranet to let everyone know there's a hiring freeze, no more raises, and "downsizing" and "discontinuation" are imminent.

George Bodenheimer Reminds Bristol Of The Wintry Economic Climate We're In

AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM GEORGE
ABOUT HOW ESPN IS MANAGING IN THIS ECONOMY.

Hello. It's good to be back with you and I hope you and your families are well.

When I last spoke on ITK back in November, I addressed our growing concerns for the economy and outlined how we planned to modify our spending and hiring in order to keep our costs in line. I told you then that if we needed to do more, you would hear it from me first.

The economy is worsening, and ESPN and our business partners - especially some of our major advertisers - are feeling the impact more acutely than at any point in our lifetime.

As you know, we've managed our business very well - with last year being a record year for us - but it is clear that we will need to do more to maintain our growth and position ourselves for the future.

Our overall approach to business remains unchanged. We'll work to reduce expenses and maximize efficiencies while investing smartly in you, the employees of ESPN, and in our long-term future.

Leadership training, the launch of Employee Resource Groups, our BCS and SEC agreements, the development of the L.A. production facility, the construction of Building 13 and our new child care facility in Bristol are tangible examples of our commitment to the continued growth of ESPN. We will continue to make smart investments in our future both in the US and internationally.

But we've all read the headlines. Unfortunately, economic realities have forced us to make some difficult decisions. Now is the time for hard choices and I'd like to outline the additional steps we'll be taking:

1. There will be no new hiring for the balance of 2009, except to replace openings caused by departures of existing employees; for a limited number of priorities and for the staff needed to support the opening of the L.A. production facility this spring. The net effect is that we will eliminate approximately 200 open jobs from our existing cost base.
2. We do not plan, at this time, to add headcount in 2010. We will manage the company with our current complement of personnel thru the end of our next fiscal year - September 2010.
3. Consistent with the decision of the Walt Disney Company, there will be no merit increases for ESPN Sr. Directors and above in Fiscal 2009. And finally, while reduced, there will be a merit pool this year for those below Sr. Director.

We have also begun a series of detailed analyses of each department which will result in the re-positioning of some jobs and the limited elimination of others.

This includes:

* A review of lines of business to determine those that require further investment and those that should be downsized or discontinued.
* A review of our operations with the objective of eliminating redundancies and creating a more efficient organization centered around functional expertise.
* An evaluation of the number of independent contractors we engage to determine if that number can be reduced while maintaining critical outputs.

These reviews will be concluded in the next 60 to 90 days. We will keep you well informed throughout the process thru messages from me, thru our human resources department and thru ITK.

Let me be clear. My confidence in all of you, our business, and our brand has never been stronger. Working hard and working together has never been more important. It's what made us successful and it will serve us well in the future.

None of this is easy, but the responsible management of our company demands that we take the necessary steps now to safeguard our future and better prepare us for the challenges ahead.

Our goal remains to come out of this period stronger.

If you have any thoughts, questions or ideas please get them to me either directly or thru ITK.

Thank you for all you do to make ESPN a special place. I look forward to meeting these challenges with you.

There have been rumors about some familiar faces at the WWL possibly not getting re-upped for their contract this year, but nothing definitive yet. I'm sure we'll have a better idea in the next month who's no longer considered Now.