AT&T's Warner Media begins massive layoffs

Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman may lose DC Universe home

At least 600 people received word they will be departing AT&T's WarnerMedia Monday as massive layoffs began as part of a restructuring led by new Chief Executive Officer Jason Kilar, sources told FOX Business.

The move comes on the heels of an executive shakeup Friday, with WarnerMedia's Bob Greenblatt and Kevin Reilly, who oversaw the company's streaming service HBO Max, forced out.

"We are elevating HBO Max in the organization and expanding its scope globally," Kilar said in a memo to staff. "I want to thank Bob and Kevin for getting us to this point with the integration of HBO and the legacy Turner Networks and launch of HBO Max. It has been such an impressive sequence of events, and we are so much better for it."

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Late Monday The Hollywood Reporter published a story stating that DC Comics -- owned by WarnerMedia -- saw one-third of its editorial staff was being laid off. In addition, DC Universe, the comic book giant's combination streaming service/digital book store/collectibles shop has had the "majority" of its streaming staff cut loose, according to The Reporter. These moves come just 12 days before the planned 24-hour online event DC Fandome, where DC was slated to show highlights and present stars from its movie, TV and comic book properties.

In his memo about forthcoming changes, CEO Kilar said layoffs were not about the people but about efficiency.

"Simplifying our approach and narrowing our focus goes beyond, for example, having one content organization vs two. It also means that we will be reducing the size of our teams, our layers, and our overall workforce," Kilar said. "These reductions are not in any way a reflection of the quality of the people impacted nor their work. It is simply a function of the above changes I believe are necessary for WarnerMedia and our collective ability to best serve customers."

Media companies are feeling the pain from the shutdowns of the coronavirus pandemic. Warner's movie and TV studio have been unable to release any theatrical films or start any new television productions. These developments have hurt advertising revenues, box office receipts and content sales for the media giant.

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Revenue from the WarnerMedia segment, which includes HBO, fell 22.7% to $6.8 billion in the second quarter, with the pandemic having a $1.5 billion impact on sales.

"I realize this is a lot to take in. And none of us should expect the above changes to be easy," Kilar added. "That said, we are successfully navigating a pandemic together and I know that, however challenging the above changes may be, we will also successfully navigate them as well. As each of you take some time to digest the above, I hope that you become more and more energized by how, together, we are boldly leaning into the future and this historic opportunity that is right in front of us."

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