With 42,000 Layoffs Since 2017, AT&T Plans Thousands More Layoffs At HBO, Time Warner

from the highly-innovative dept

Since 2017, AT&T has received not only a $42 billion tax break courtesy of the Trump administration, but billions more in regulatory favors from the Trump FCC, including the repeal of net neutrality, the erosion of much of the FCC’s authority to police natural telecom monopolies, and the elimination of broadband-specific privacy rules. In exchange, AT&T promised thousands of “high paying jobs” and a massive spike in investment. Instead, AT&T fired more than 42,000 employees and trimmed its overall 2020 investment. It’s nice work if you can get it.

And AT&T’s not done yet. AT&T spent roughly $175 billion DirecTV and Time Warner mergers thinking it could buy its way to streaming video domination. But that’s not working out so hot, and AT&T’s now doing everything in power to trim its balance sheet. That includes plans to sell DirecTV for a huge loss, and thousands more layoffs across Time Warner, HBO, and other recently acquired properties:

“AT&T’s WarnerMedia is restructuring its workforce as it seeks to reduce costs by as much as 20 percent as the coronavirus pandemic drains income from movie tickets, cable subscriptions and television ads, according to people familiar with the matter. The overhaul, which is expected to begin in the coming weeks, would result in thousands of layoffs across Warner Bros. studios and TV channels like HBO, TBS and TNT, the people said.

COVID will provide cover for AT&T, but these layoffs had already been in the works after investor backlash at AT&T’s merger mania. COVID will also create cover for the fact that this is all stuff that opponents of the AT&T Time Warner merger repeatedly warned would happen before being promptly ignored by regulators at the FCC and elsewhere. These mindless megadeals always come bearing ample promises about next-level innovation, right before delivering layoffs and higher prices for consumers and competitors alike.

The company’s promise that the deal wouldn’t result in price hikes for consumers? False. The company’s promise the deal wouldn’t result in higher prices for competitors needing access to essential AT&T content like HBO? False. AT&T’s promise they wouldn’t hide Time Warner content behind exclusivity paywalls? False. The idea that the merger would somehow create more jobs at the company? False. Falsehoods that were all taxpayer subsidized and rubber-stamped thanks to regulatory capture.

This being America, you can expect nobody, on absolutely any level of punditry, press, or government, to learn absolutely anything from this experience.

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Companies: at&t

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Comments on “With 42,000 Layoffs Since 2017, AT&T Plans Thousands More Layoffs At HBO, Time Warner”

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12 Comments
ECA (profile) says:

I thought the gov.

Paid off all these corps to KEEP the employees, during the Virus.

That and,
Does ATT know what its doing? They buy out other business’s they may not know HOW they work, and then gets rid of all the workers?
Does ATT know whats its doing?(doubt it)

Isnt there a post about ATT selling at a loss, one of its holdings?
I still think its a scam, to buy at a high price then bankrupt the whole system, and reset all of its Banknotes.

Darkness Of Course (profile) says:

Movie theaters sure.

But COVID-19 pandemic draining income from movie tickets, cable subscriptions and television ads?

Movies, okay we’re not going to the movies. But, we watch them over cable. And many TV shows are being binged, some of which have ads.

Either AT&T doesn’t know which side their bread is buttered on, or they are just as stupid as they were when they had the American phone monopoly.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Movie theaters sure.

"Movies, okay we’re not going to the movies. But, we watch them over cable. And many TV shows are being binged, some of which have ads."

Well, it makes a little sense although I think they’re just using the pandemic to cover for business failures.

Cord cutting is happening at an increasing rate, and while the cable companies have ISP monopolies in many place, a lot of people are choosing to cut the cable TV part. This means lower viewership, which means they can’t get as much money from ads to play to a reduced audience. They try to make this up with subscriptions, but HBO is a big mess at the moment, while selling to 3rd party streaming services obviously still means less ad revenue.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Movie theaters sure.

I was gonna say:
"Cable cutting — there FTFY"
but I see you already fixed it yourself later in your comment.

I thought Ma-Bell was busted up in the Eighties, so why is Ma-Bell still such a conglomerate now? Hopefully US legislators learned something from the supposed Ma-Bell breakup, as they attempt to break up Google and the like now.

Karl's Bode says:

AT&T is a big evil corporation that has made mistakes, yes, but I love how articles like these completely gloss over the evolution of the business.

TimeWarner ran each of their divisions as separate companies with their own support staff. They have relied on making movies and linear cable networks. TW would not have survived on its previous path in the industry without adapting to the new world of streaming.

AT&T combining media groups and shifting to streaming is what all of the other media companies are focused on- Paramount +, Peacock, Disney+. All of these companies have streamlined their staff and shifted focus.

nerdrage (profile) says:

Re: then why did HBO Max flop?

AT&T had their chance to prove that they knew what they’re doing in streaming with HBO Max, which flopped. With everyone stuck at home and getting bored of the options on Netflix and Disney+, this is the best possible environment for a steaming service to launch. There is no excuse for HBO Max to flop, other than incompetent management.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: then why did HBO Max flop?

"There is no excuse for HBO Max to flop, other than incompetent management."

I listen to multiple podcasts from the US, and one of the themes on many of them running up to the launch of HBO Max was massive amounts of confusion about what the service would actually offer compared to the several other HBO streaming options that were already available. Since launch, the themes have been annoyance over some aspects of the UI, and difficulty getting access to the product at all due to some arcane nonsense involving cable subscription.

So, while anecdotal, it certainly does seem to be the case that the service has been handled very badly despite people actually wanting to use it.

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