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Sports Illustrated employees union says entire staff could be laid off

Sports Illustrated's publishers reportedly lost a license to the magazine, which could result in the elimination of the entire staff.
Sports Illustrated employees union says entire staff could be laid off
Posted at 12:45 PM, Jan 19, 2024

The Sports Illustrated Union announced in a statement that workers were notified on Friday of layoffs that could affect the entire staff. 

The union says the layoffs were a result of publisher The Arena Group having its license to publish Sports Illustrated revoked by Authentic Brands Group. 

Scripps News has contacted both The Arena Group and Authentic Brands Group for their reaction. 

On Thursday, The Arena Group announced that it has cut 100 employees due to "substantial debt and recently missed payments." 

“My immediate focus is to collaboratively design a growth-oriented media company, ensuring the financial stability necessary to cultivate and grow the brands we cherish. While this week’s layoffs were regrettably necessary, I look forward to sharing detailed plans soon," said Jason Frankl of FTI Consulting, who was recently appointed as chief business transformation officer of The Arena Group.

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The Arena Group has undergone turmoil in recent months. In December, the company said it terminated CEO Ross Levinsohn. On Friday, Levinsohn said he also resigned his position on the company's board. 

"The actions of this Board and the destruction of Sports Illustrated's storied brand and newsroom are the last straw," he wrote. 

The SI Union said it was calling on Authentic Brands Group to ensure continued magazine publication.

"We have fought together as a union to maintain the standard of this storied publication that we love, and to make sure our workers are treated fairly for the value they bring to this company. It is a fight we will continue," said Mitch Goldich, Sports Illustrated NFL editor and union unit chair.

The publication has experienced bumps in recent years. In November, the employees union said it was outraged that AI-generated content under fake bylines was published. 

In 2019, the union underwent mass layoffs shortly after The Arena Group acquired the rights to publish the magazine. 

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