Time For More Fun And Games With ESPN Memos

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After the infamous ESPN Memo from this summer, the folks at ESPN wised up and stopped widely distributing their interoffice "Town Meeting" emails. It appears, however, they have gotten lazy: We have another one.


It's not quite as brilliant corporate and banal as the last one, but it still has its moments.

Q: I work in Building B, located next to the new satellite dish farm. What are the health risks associated with being in such close vicinity of so many satellite dishes?

A: There are no known health risks associated with being in close proximity to the satellite dishes. ESPN has designed the teleport to meet all state and federal mandates for transmission and has placed the antenna such that no transmit antenna has the ability to rotate toward our buildings.


After the jump, enjoy the rest of ESPN Memo, The Sequel.


TO: Content Staff FROM: John Skipper DATE: 12/03/2007

SUBJECT: September '07 Town Meetings Q&A Follow-Up

Below are the answers to questions we could not answer or did not get to in the September Town Meetings. Thanks to the various department heads who provided the answers.


Q: Could Facilities post an artist's depiction of what the cafeteria and the connector will look like when it's completed? A lot of people are interested and someplace in the cafeteria would be great.
A: We will look to do so as part of our augmented internal Communications efforts. For cost and ease of display purposes, we would like to place these on line, so look for more information on our construction projects and other company initiatives in that space.

Q: Can you look into having the people at the cafeteria speed up preparing orders? It is one thing at "lunch" time, 12:00p - 1:30p, when the cafeteria is busy, but for those who take lunch at a non-traditional time, (2:00p onward), it's really frustrating to wait 10-15 minutes when there are only 2-3 people in line.
A: As part of our service agreement, FLIK continuously monitors the volume of customers to minimize waiting time and will deploy additional staff when necessary. We share this goal, and our Facilities group will follow up with the FLIK management staff to ensure they continue to monitor waiting times and minimize them as much as possible.


Q: I work in Building B, located next to the new satellite dish farm. What are the health risks associated with being in such close vicinity of so many satellite dishes?
A: There are no known health risks associated with being in close proximity to the satellite dishes. ESPN has designed the teleport to meet all state and federal mandates for transmission and has placed the antenna such that no transmit antenna has the ability to rotate toward our buildings.

Q: Any chance we will see a repeat of the financial seminars, given earlier this year by the Human Resources Department?
A: Yes, the financial seminars are part of our work/life offerings and will be provided again.


Q: Are there any plans for Disney to extend medical plans for retired employees?
A: There are no plans by The Walt Disney Company to extend medical plans for retired employees at this time.

Q: Why doesn't SAP have a 40 hour sheet in place for hourly wage workers? If one misses filling in their hours, they don't get paid. With hours put in as a default, this wouldn't happen.
A: It is a legal requirement for non-exempt employees to record their time. Accordingly, ESPN non-exempt employees are required to enter in their work hours into SAP. Among other things, this ensures their regular and overtime pay will be accurate and generated as scheduled. If employees are unable to enter their time on schedule in SAP, they have the following options:

* Each department has an assigned SAP Time Processor who can enter an employee's time into SAP if someone is unable to enter their own time due to travel, illness, etc.


* Employees can enter their work time remotely, via a personal computer, with approved access.

* ESPN's Human Resources Department can enter an employee's work and absence time in SAP, if requested, due to an emergency.


Q: Why are there suddenly security cameras in virtually every hallway/stairwell on campus? Do you feel the need to let employees know about this sudden change?
A: Maintaining an environment that is safe and secure for our employees and our guests is very important to us. Enhancement of those efforts, through camera installations in our common areas, has been an ongoing project since 2003.

Q: Is it possible to install exit/entrance gates in other areas of campus fencing? This can be swipe card areas, in order to keep security, but can also aid in the convenience of walking off campus.
A: One of the basic principles of security for a campus of our size is to have a manageable number of entry points, allowing for proper flow and appropriate security measures. We believe we have achieved that but will continue to monitor this.


Q: Can we use another method for a car pass rather than the huge bar code that all of Bristol can see?
A: The bar code will be replaced shortly with another vehicle identifier which will be smaller in size and go onto the windshield.

Q: ESPN does not rate as one of the top 10 broadcasting companies for Women in Cable Television, (WICT). Do you feel it's worth addressing or resolving?
A: Since 2003, ESPN has participated annually in the WICT PAR Survey, and fared well in 2007. We participate to benchmark our progress against the industry and we give significant review to its recommendations. In 2005, ESPN was named one of the top 5 companies for Pay Equity by WICT and we are pleased that once again ESPN made the top 5 list for Pay Equity in 2007. We are proud of the progress that we have made and will continue to strengthen our diversity initiative as we look to enhance the work experience for all ESPN employees.


Q: Will we see side-by-side commercials in NASCAR? Is it successful in Indy Racing?
A: We are exploring creative formatting for our NASCAR races next year, including commercial free race segments and side-by-side coverage. We are working to balance giving the fans as much live race action as possible with our need to deliver value to our sponsors and advertisers.

While research does not demonstrate that our IndyCar side-by-side coverage has had a material impact on our ratings, we believe it is a great service to our fans to show as much green-flag racing as possible.


Q: How about re-establishing the company stock plan to all employees like the old Cap Cities plan?
A: In order to remain competitive, The Walt Disney World Company evaluates its rewards programs regularly. At this time, there are no plans to establish a discounted Employee Stock Purchase Plan. However, the Disney Employee Stock Purchase Plan gives eligible employees the opportunity to purchase Disney stock through payroll deductions. Under the plan, you can contribute from one (1) to twenty (20) percent of your bi-weekly pay, which includes your base pay plus overtime, holiday, vacation and sick pay with the company offsetting administrative expenses for employees and commissions on purchases from payroll deductions. The details of this program may be found at: https://enterpriseportal.disney.com/gopublish/sitemedia/DocumentFile/ESPPBrochureII.pdf on the ESPN Enterprise Portal.

Q: What have you identified as the reason for your minority retention problem?
A: Inclusion and retention are key areas of focus for ESPN and issues that are important to our entire workforce. As a primary component of our business strategy, we value the competitive advantage that having a diverse employee base creates and we continuously look at ways to better understand and address why employees choose to work elsewhere. Among other things, we constantly review our rewards programs, look for ways to improve the work environment and culture, seek to expand learning and development opportunities and provide every employee with a compelling work-experience.


Q: What does ESPN do with all of their computers, televisions and office equipment? Does ESPN donate them? Would it be possible to sell these items at a discount to employees or an event to the public?
A: ESPN Corporate Outreach currently manages the "old furniture" and equipment, (computers, TVs, etc.), donations. Some items are disposed of and others are donated to valid 501 (c) (3) organizations within the community. ESPN is not an equipment reseller.

Q: Can the PowerPoint presentation be placed on the ESPN Intranet?
A: After much consideration, we would prefer not to post with respect to 1) confidentiality of company information, and 2) competitive reasons.


Q: Will we ever be able to use flex scheduling for Monday Night Football?
A: Given the issues surrounding logistics, stadium availability, and competitive concerns with moving a game from Sunday to Monday night on relatively short notice, flexible scheduling appears to be a remote possibility for Monday Night Football.

Q: We called back our INDY 500 SportsCenter coverage this past May and part of that deal with the IRL, from my understanding, was to broadcast more IRL races in HD. However, the remaining season was in SD. What happened?
A: In our continuing effort to serve Indy 500 fans we worked with IndyCar to televise the race in HD. At the same time, we determined having SportsCenter on site was not essential to covering the race thoroughly from a news perspective. The 2008 IndyCar regular season and 2008 Indy 500 will be produced in HD.


Q: Why are we so under staffed in Studio Production? What is being done about this?
A: Recently, we have experienced some turnover in studio production, (mainly production assistants and associate producers). We are currently filling all of the open positions and expect to be fully staffed soon through a combination of promotions from within and outside hires.

Q: We are encouraged to apply to positions online, but we never get any feedback after applying.
A: Our process is designed to include a response to all candidates who apply for a position when they have been removed from consideration or when the position is closed in the system. There is an e-mail notification sent to the address provided during the application process. You are encouraged to contact Recruiting or your Human Resources Business Partner if you are unsure of the state of your application.


Q: What is Dolby 5.1?
A: Dolby 5.1" is the digital surround sound format designed for film and HD television. It is commonly referred to as "Dolby Digital" or "DD". The 5.1 references the 6 channels of audio being recognized as the left front speaker, the right front speaker, the center dialog speaker, the left rear speaker and the right rear speaker. The ".1" is intended for very low frequency, (explosions and dramatic thunderous sounds), intended for film and not used for sports television production. The 5 main surround channels plus the '.1' total 6 channels.

Q: Is what we do on Monday Night Football and other big events a variation of this?
A: Yes. The SRS Circle Surround system we utilize delivers a robust, dynamic and effective surround sound for our events and our studio programming. It is easy to use, sets up quickly and as an added bonus allows the SD viewer to experience the same surround sound of a down converted telecast if they have surround systems not associated with HD viewing.


Q: Why can't we do individual 5.1 channels for all of our shows?
A: All remote events are produced using the same SRS encoding techniques that we do for MNF. SportsCenter and our other in-house studio shows are mixed in stereo only. Currently, there are no production elements that would benefit a 5.1 mix. But, should production decide to augment their shows with additional rear channel information, we can certainly entertain that option.

Q: Often times there is a break down in communications between the control room and the studio, (studio not being told about live-to-tapes, pre-production, etc. in a timely manner). What can be done?
A: We strive to make sure all parties - Editorial, Operations, Engineering, Studio Directing, Transmission, etc. have a clear plan as to what is happening every hour of every day within our facilities. That is done through a series of long and short range planning meetings and followed up by daily meetings. Also, on a daily basis, each show unit defines their needs based on the news of the day and/or a change in programming or production schedule. Daily changes are communicated through Coordinating Producers, Directors and Stage Managers to both the control room and studio. While we strive to keep this information as timely as possible, it is sometimes dictated by breaking news which shortens the window of notification. We are aware that sometimes there is not timely communication with regard to all the productions being assigned to a studio in a given day. When there are communication concerns, please bring them to the attention of a Studio Supervisor so there is follow-up to ensure the process is refined.

Q: Are the grade levels a detriment to employees? It seems promotions are being affected in a negative way. I recently received a promotion, which used to be a standard 14%, (10% for promotion and 4% merit). My last promotion was half of that - with the reason given that I was making too much money in my level to get a normal promotion. If this is the case, where is the incentive? Why do I want to double my work for a 6% raise, rather than the 14% we used to get? It's a huge difference.
A: The ESPN grade levels are not a detriment to employees. Prior to the implementation of our compensation management system, (GRADE), some areas of the company awarded a "standard" merit and a "standard" promotion. Now, promotional increases are not tied to a standard percentage; they are driven by pay ranges defined by the competitive marketplace and ESPN's pay-for-performance philosophy. With GRADE, managers are asked to consider a number of factors with promotions and merits which leads to a range of increase award sizes that can at times exceed standard percentages. This system helps us to maintain salaries that are closely tied to the market pay for that specific job.


Q: ESPN implies that it will promote people from within, then why is it that when someone applies for a position they are denied from interviewing based on their salary grade when the position does not fall under the same group?
A: ESPN supports internal mobility and growth at all levels. To be eligible to post for a position, a person should meet the requisite skills for the job and generally be in their current position at least 12 months. In most cases, an employee is eligible for consideration for a position of up to 2 grades higher than their current salary grade level. Grade levels are companywide and not differentiated by department or group.

Q: Can we go back to having 2 company picnics so that more employees can attend?
A: We are not planning on holding two picnics each year. However, we always attempt to accommodate as many employees and families as possible. This decision on the date and the hours of operation is made on an annual basis with the primary objective being to maximize attendance and enjoyment by our entire group. We know that for various reasons not everyone can make it every year, but our hope is that the majority of our Connecticut and NY employees have the opportunity to do so many times in their careers.