In E-mail, ABC News President Tells Staff No Holiday Parties This Year; All Print Subs Canceled; Execs Must Stay at ‘B’ Hotels

This morning David Westin, president of ABC News, sent out an e-mail to staffers warning that ABC News is not "immune from the downturn," and that the division (along with the rest of Disney’s Media Networks Group) will be implementing new "guidelines" to "reduce administrative costs."

As part of the cost-cutting measures, ABC News will be canceling all of its magazine and newspaper subscriptions, will not be throwing any holiday parties, and will be scaling back on travel accommodations for executives.

Here’s the depressing text of the e-mail:

We report every day on the economic climate and the effects being felt throughout the country. We are not immune from the downturn. At the same time, the importance of the election and economic stories reminds us how much we have to do to help our audiences absorb and understand what is going on around them. What we need to do—and will do—is to make sure that we have all the resources we need to cover the news.

To that end, we (together with the rest of the Media Networks Group) are adopting the following, new guidelines to reduce some of our administrative costs.

1. All executives are asked to fly one grade below what they’re entitled to. Some have contractual provisions on air travel, and the company is not breaching any contracts. But we are being asked to use our discretion on this.

3. All executives are asked to stay in "B" level hotels. I’m told that Travel knows what this means.

4. Starting immediately, the only business meals for which we will be reimbursed are those with third parties. Any meals (or drinks) with ABC or Disney employees will not be reimbursed.

5. All non-production (i.e. administrative) travel must be pre-approved by the CFO (in our case, Jim Hedges) in writing. Your finance and operations people can help you with this.

6. As of December 1, we will cancel all subscriptions (newspaper and magazine) for executives and production employees and move them to on-line. This change will have the added benefit of helping the environment. If there are particular circumstances where you believe this will materially impair your ability to get your work done, you should make your case to your executive producer or supervisorby November 15th. Dave Davis, Kate O’Brian, and Paul Slavin will review these requests and submit their recommendations to me.

7. We’re asked to keep any convention or conference attendance to an absolute minimum. Anyone who attends things like NAB or RTNDA, we need to have a conversation. If someone needs to attend, it will be a skeleton crew.

8. We’ll forego all holiday parties this year. This means that the company parties in LA, NY and DC are cancelled.

Thanks again for your understanding and cooperation. I won’t pretend that this won’t be difficult. But, I truly believe that there is a way for us to do this together that will result in a stronger ABC News.


In E-mail, ABC News President Tells Staff No Holiday Parties This Year; All Print Subs Canceled; Execs Must Stay at ‘B’ Hotels