Although there isn’t an exact count of how many people lost their jobs, at least a dozen people were laid off from Azteca América’s skeletal news division and other departments.
Longtime network news correspondent María Elena García Villalobos and Jacqueline Llamas, correspondent for newsmagazine “Al Extremo” are among the on-air casualties. U.S.-based producers, photographers and editors working for TV Azteca shows in Mexico were also affected.
According to several sources, some of the laid off staffers were given the opportunity to stay on as freelancers. They were told the cuts were part of a company restructuring.
A company spokesperson would not comment on the layoffs, but confirmed Azteca América’s local sales office in Chicago was shut down, without affecting the network and national sales teams.*
Azteca América has had a rocky history since it launched in the U.S. But it appeared things were starting to look up for the network, which had been on expansion mode, signing affiliate agreements, enjoying improved ratings, and according to an insider, seen an increase in ad sales.
Earlier this year, Azteca América scored a big win in the spectrum auction, getting a payout of over $91 million for flagship station KAZA in Los Angeles.
* Updated to reflect the company spokesperson confirmed the closure of the Chicago local sales office after story publication.