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Super RTL cuts staff ahead of Disney Channel launch

German family channel Super RTL is slashing its workforce by 15% – up to 20 jobs – in the face of expected competition from upcoming FTA rival Disney Channel.

Super RTL’s CEO Claude Schmit told German newspaper Handelsblatt the corporate restructure was a “pre-emptive measure” due to “tougher” competition when Disney Channel replaces Das Vierte on German free-TV in January 2014.

“Super RTL is and will continue to be successful and profitable. It is anybody’s guess just how successful our new competitors will be. However, we will be prepared to take on all challenges ahead with our revised, lean and cost-effective measures,” added Schmit.

Super RTL is looking to find “amicable solutions” for the staff set to lose their jobs, including offering employees willing to take voluntary redundancy “exit payments and further benefits”.

Disney Channel’s entry into the market is muddied by the fact its owner, The Walt Disney Company Germany, is a 50% owner of Super RTL, which has been the family channel FTA market leader for more than a decade.

Disney says it is committed to Super RTL but German sources expect it to exit once Disney Channel is established.