Coronavirus impact: Salary cuts at Disney Star

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MUMBAI: After pay cuts were announced in sister organisations in the US, it comes as no surprise that similar measures have been instituted in the Indian arm of the House of Mouse. 

The Walt Disney Company APAC chairman and Star and Disney India president Uday Shankar, speaking at an UpGrad webinar, said that the network had introduced a voluntary salary reduction plan. “We have voluntarily rolled out a program for senior executives to take salary cuts. We don’t need to. To be honest we don’t need to. We decided to do that as an investment for the future. We want to be prepared. And I am happy to say that it has been hugely well received. Everybody has been very positive and employees reacted to that extremely positively,” Shankar said.

Shankar's comments come in the wake of ESPN asking some of its on-air personalities to take a 15% pay cut over the next three months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are asking about 100 of our commentators to join with our executives and take a temporary salary reduction,” ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said in a statement. “These are challenging times and we are all in this together.”

The pay cuts, which are voluntary, would apply to ESPN’s highest-paid broadcasters. They are designed to help deter further immediate furloughs that would affect network employees who might be more financially vulnerable. ESPN has already furloughed those who work on live events.

ESPN executives are taking 20%-30% salary reductions as part of cost-cutting measures instituted throughout Walt Disney Corp.

At the "mother ship", Disney executive have had to sign new “temporary” contracts reducing their pay up to 30% with no end date, while company chairman Bob Iger is passing up his entire salary and CEO Bob Chapek is taking a 50% cut.

It needs noting though that for Iger (as is the case with top industry honchos in general), the bulk of his income, which comes from bonuses and stock options, will remain untouched.