Regional Spanish-language sports net Time Warner Cable Deportes has eliminated all of its original sports shows and most of its staff. About 30 people from TWC Deportes lost their jobs, including all staff and freelance on-air talent.
Elmur Souza, Ricardo Celis and Martin Zuñiga are among the network’s original staff sports anchors laid off. An inside source says about 4 people remain on staff – for the time being.
TWC Deportes, launched October 1, 2012, is one of 3 Time Warner Cable Los Angeles-based regional networks, which have the rights to air Lakers and Dodgers games.
Francisco Pinto and Adrián García Márquez, who are employed by the Lakers, will continue to narrate the basketball games.
A company spokesperson confirmed lay offs across the entire organization, including SportsNet and SportsNet LA, but refused to specify numbers. However, Deportes got hit the hardest, with almost its entire staff decimated.
When asked by Media Moves, the spokesperson denied Deportes would be shut down, but a company source familiar with the situation says the regional network, which loses $100 million a year, will be closed at the end of the current Laker and Dodger seasons.
In an official statement, the company acknowledged: “We recently made some changes to our programming for Time Warner Cable SportsNet, Time Warner Cable Deportes and SportsNet LA. As we fine-tuned the programming, it naturally meant that we would make some staffing changes as well. Like many other networks, we’re now past the “start-up” stage and we have a greater handle on what our viewers want to see, and how to staff for that.”
Time Warner has struggled to gain distribution of its L.A.-based sports networks. No widespread carriage means insufficient audience to register the ratings needed to survive. In an internal memo to staff quoted in the Daily News, the company cited poor ratings for the layoffs and cutbacks.
The reductions are seen by some as part of a strategic business move as Time Warner prepares for its merger with Charter.