Warner Bros. Discovery has taken the axe to its European staff, chopping 29 jobs in Europe, among them top programming positions, Warner Bros. Discovery confirmed Thursday.
Among the executives on the way out are Johnathan Young, vp, original programming and production at HBO Max EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Christian Wikander, vp and commissioning editor of original programming for the Nordic region; and Annelies Sitvast, who heads up the studios’ unscripted original programming slate. Mia Edde, who joined WBD last year to run content acquisitions for Turkey, has already left.
The rest of the 29 employees, all of whom will be leaving WBD over the next 15 months, come from these executives’ teams.
The cuts were expected following the merger of Discovery and Warner Bros. and the announcement by studio boss David Zaslav that the company was looking to find $3 billion in savings across its global business.
In Europe, the layoffs also represent a shift in strategy for WBD’s streaming services HBO Max and Discovery+. The studio plans to merge both operations as it rolls out its service worldwide, and it is shifting its approach to the commissioning and production of local content.
WBD will stop commissioning European originals solely for its HBO Max service. Teams working on HBO Max European originals will complete their current projects before moving on. Going forward, local WBD teams responsible for both linear and streaming programming will handle local commissioning and acquisitions in their respective territories.
It’s a seismic shift for HBO Max EMEA original programming head Antony Root, who has overseen a rapid expansion in HBO Max originals in the region, producing such shows as Poland’s The Pack, Beforeigners in Norway and Kamikaze in Denmark.
Root will stay in his job, along with vp, scripted development Steve Matthews; vp, documentaries Hanka Kastelicová; HBO Max’s France vp/commissioning editor Vera Peltekian; and Miguel Salvat, vp and commissioning editor for HBO Max in the Iberia region.
Deadline was the first to break the story about the WBD layoffs.