The bloodbath in Fox’s film division Thursday that saw an exodus of top executives has not spread to the TV businesses of the combined companies.
As expected, the first significant TV cuts have been in the area of distribution, which always is vulnerable in consolidation. Mark Kaner, President of 20th Century Fox Television Distribution, a standalone division at Fox, is the only notable name we have heard so far today. He joins Greg Meidel, president of syndication division Twentieth Television, who left Thursday.
While the broader distribution area as well as back-office functions will continue to be impacted, and we likely will see a few more TV layoffs by end of day today or Monday, only a handful are expected to be in the Disney-Fox programming teams, which had been left intact so far.
First off, ramping up production of TV content is key to Disney’s strategy of making its direct-to-consumer platform a rival to Netflix. Secondly, the film side saw two big studios of comparable side trying to merge under the leadership of Walt Disney Studios. The structure of that division was not unveiled until after the ax fell hard Thursday.
In TV, Disney unveiled the post-merger structure well in advance, with top Fox executives Peter Rice and Dana Walden as well as her senior executive team at 20th Century Fox/Fox 21 all moving over. ABC Studios is smaller and leaner than 20th TV, which makes its integration an easier proposition than merging the two movie studios.
Still, there will be a few immediate cuts and likely more down the road. (For the time being, with both TV studios focused on pilot season and their cable/streaming series, the labels will continue to operate somewhat autonomously under the oversight of Craig Hunegs.)
Like Meidel, Kaner was a Fox veteran who has had close ties with the Murdoch family. He was responsible for selling international 20th Century Fox TV series as well as 20th Century Fox movies and was a fixture at the May international screenings.
We will post updates as more layoff news comes.
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