The company laid off about 70 employees, mostly people of color and brown. Former employees say that the new managers are betting on more “white” and conservative content.
In recent weeks, the many decisions made within the new Warner Bros Discovery have caused a stir. One of them was to announce that it is intended to merge the transmission platforms of both companies. But what followed was a succession of cancellations, eliminations, and dismissals that caused consternation around the world. Now former executives of the company and personnel who no longer belong to the firm, revealed that the intentions of the Discovery conglomerate are to eliminate any trace of diversity in the content of HBO Max and also within its ranks.
“I don’t think anyone knows how white the staff is,” says one of them. And it is that in recent days the company fired a group of almost 70 people, which means 14% of the total staff. The funny thing is that most of that group are people of color or brown. According to two former HBO Max executives, who preferred to remain anonymous, all of the firings were at the design of David Zaslav, president of the Warner Bros Discovery conglomerate.
Zaslav’s intention, as he points out in this article, is to move HBO MAX away from inclusive content and diversity. Instead, they intend to make the platform – which will later be merged with another – into something more enjoyable for the average white audience in the United States. In other words, the type of public that generally consumes the contents of the Discovery+ platform.
A more in-depth study, shown in graphs, compared the type of audience that consumes Discovery+ and HBO Max, and found significant demographic differences. For example, HBO Max is popular with young, single people who drive hybrid cars; while Discovery+ attracts an audience that no longer lives with their children, or has many grandchildren and drives SUVs, minivans, or “small travel buses.” The first group is more loyal to networks like TikTok and Instagram; the second is more about Facebook and Twitter, if they even have a social network.
This is intended to show that Discovery’s audience is generally older, conservative, and right-wing. While HBO bets more on diverse audiences, mostly young adults, and with liberal or leftist ideologies. Perhaps the political position would have nothing to do with a situation like this, however, Zaslav himself has shown that for him ideologies do matter. He demonstrated it last weekend when he fired journalist and anchor Brian Stelter from CNN. A personality who is constantly criticized among the right-wing conservative public.
For now, HBO Max’s executive vice president of drama Joey Chavez is one of the few people of color still in the company’s top brass. The streaming platform and the pay television channel operate independently. So it is possible that on the side of HBO (channel) there is still a black woman in operations. However, it is something that no one was able to confirm to The Daily Beast .
“The layoffs have ‘amplified the lack of diversity at HBO , ‘ ” another former executive told the outlet. “HBO is the most homogeneous part of this umbrella. Instead of trying to figure out how to integrate some of [Max’s] executives into HBO, they just made this radical cut of three divisions: kids, family, and international. So a lot of black and brown people lost their jobs.”
On the other hand, more and more titles are disappearing from the platform. Several of them coincide in showing diverse and inclusive content within the streaming service . The most notorious case in recent weeks was the original series Generation, which is about a group of young people who explore their sexuality without prejudice or gender considerations.
However, Discovery argued that the reason for the removal of several titles corresponds to a tax exemption. In other words, for the new managers it is not important to keep a title within the platform if it generates taxes, and in reality it does not reward the company in a significant way. The above means that at least titles like La casa del Dragón, or Euphoria will be safe from being removed from the catalog.
Under the same tax logic is that another of the great shocks experienced by the company was generated. The ” witch hunt ” that led to the cancellation of Batgirl also gave a lot to talk about. The $90 million budget film featured a female lead as the lead, played by Leslie Grace, an Afro-Latina actress.
“ Former Warner employees believe these changes have as much to do with business as they do with reshaping the ideological perception of Warner properties, ” the article mentions. An assumption that points to a single objective on the part of the new controls of the study: the absolute rejection of inclusionist and diverse content.
All of the above has reinforced the theory that the merger between HBO Max and Discovery + probably also means a name change. An absolute rebranding that is more accommodating for the most conservative type of population in the United States. The only consuming public that David Zaslav is interested in pleasing.
You can read more about the promised merger here.