The Walt Disney Company is shuttering Radio Disney. The news comes as additional layoffs hit Disney-owned ABC News.
In a statement obtained by the TheWrap, the company said Radio Disney and Radio Disney Country will cease operations in the first quarter of 2021. The 36 full- and part-time employees who will be affected were notified Thursday by president and chief creative office of Disney’s branded television, Gary Marsh. They will all be laid off in February, TheWrap has learned.
Further layoffs were underway at ABC News on Thursday. A source familiar with the situation confirmed to TheWrap that there were cuts across the news division’s departments, affecting a percentage of employees in the low single digits. A spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
The Radio Disney announcement acknowledged that the changes were part of an ongoing restructuring effort at the Walt Disney Company.
“The difficult decision to close these two radio networks coincided with Disney’s recently announced structural changes that call for Disney Branded Television to sharpen its focus on increasing production of kids’ and family content for Disney+ and Disney Channels,” the statement said. “Division leaders also took into account the fast evolving media environment that provides more personalized music choices than ever to a generation of young consumers, and the ongoing public health crisis that continues to affect in-person music events.”
Peter Rice, chairman of the newly renamed Disney General Entertainment Content division, unveiled the company’s next wave of reorganization in a November memo. Layoffs were projected at that time. The new changes hinged on the company-wide restructuring announced by Disney CEO Bob Chapek in October, which split distribution and content creation into separate operations. Rice’s team moved to wholly focus on producing and marketing content, while a separate division, led by Kareem Daniel, now handles distribution.
Late last month, Disney confirmed that staff cuts were underway. The company announced Nov. 25 that it plans to lay off 32,000 employees in the first half of 2021, culled primarily from its theme parks division. Disney has also confirmed that approximately 37,000 employees were furloughed as of Oct. 3.