Crisis at Univision: A new wave of layoffs rocks Miami’s communications giant

Paola Eloza, meteorologist for Canal 23 was affected in the recent lay offs at Univision.
Paola Eloza, meteorologist for Canal 23 was affected in the recent lay offs at Univision.

The new CEO of Univision, Vincent Sadusky, said it without hesitation in a memo to all employees of the U.S.-based Spanish language media giant: “There will be some difficult days ahead.”

And the first day of those anticipated adjustments was felt throughout the network Wednesday afternoon, as employees nationwide were left without jobs.

Among those affected are several well-known figures, such as Paola Elorza, the Chilean meteorologist of Noticias 23 in Miami, sources told El Nuevo Herald.

Cecilia Ramírez Harris, Venezuelan health and lifestyle reporter for Primer Impacto, Univision’s primetime news magazine; and Noticiero Univision correspondent Maria Eugenia Payán, a native of the Dominican Republic, were also laid off. Noticiero Univision is the flagship evening television news program for the network.

Univision announced this new wave of layoffs amid an institutional crisis that has in recent months claimed several senior executives, ones who have left behind a company that does not look like it should, according to the memorandum from Sadusky, who replaced Randy Falco as CEO.

Falco resigned unexpectedly in June, barely four months after the company renewed his contract.

Univision “has tried many experiments over the last several years to find new paths of growth. Some have worked, some have not,” Sadusky wrote in the memo sent to employees. “Many of these new ideas had eaten up a disproportionate part of our resources, whereas some of our most core activities had been significantly under-resourced.”

Sadusky did not detail the number of layoffs, but a source from entertainment business website Deadline reported that the cuts amount to 6 percent of the workforce, which before these layoffs totaled about 4,000 people. According to this calculation, about 250 employees will soon be without work.

This summer alone, three executives resigned on the heels of Falco: Tonia O’Connor, chief revenue officer; Isaac Lee, chief content officer; and Lourdes Díaz, president of entertainment.

Over the past few years, Univision has acquired numerous digital media firms in English. The company invested extraordinary sums in the Fusion project, an English-language channel for young bilingual Latinos that has failed to attract a large-enough audience. Fusion further depleted resources to core operations – programming in Spanish – which created discontent among employees on Spanish-speaking platforms.

So, the first step of the new restructuring has been “our intention to sell all our digital properties in English,” Sadusky said in the internal statement, promising Univision workers that “we will continue to invest in the Hispanic community.”

The layoffs on Wednesday, which added to another recent wave of layoffs, will allow the network to allocate new resources “to local content and sales, sales in digital media in Spanish, business development and many other areas,” Sadusky said.

Besides Elorza, layoffs at Channel 23, whose Noticias 23 is one of the highest-rated local news shows in South Florida, claimed Madeline Norda, Executive Producer of Noticias 23, as well as staff of the graphics department and an administrative assistant.

“For the rest of us [the remaining], I sincerely believe that this is the new starting point for one of the really fabulous media networks in the United States,” Sadusky said.