Walt Disney Company chairman/ceo Michael Eisner showed little festive cheer in his annual letter to shareholders, following an atrocious year for the media mammoth.

The ten-page missive vowed to cut back online operations to move them into the black this year, boost the performance of ailing TV network ABC, slash $600 million from investment in live action movies and close fifty Disney stores, while Eisner added that the era of rapid expansion of its theme parks – hit by the current recession – was over.

“I want to make clear my disappointment with the fact that the overall equity value of the company as I am writing this has not risen as it has in the past,” read the letter – something of a euphemism as its stock actually fell almost 30% in 2001.

Disney, Eisner told shareholders, is “heavily focused” on producing new ratings-grabbing shows for ABC. “Primetime does present a problem and we are determined to solve it,” he declared.

It has been a dreadful twelve months for ABC – not only did it suffer the ubiquitous fall in ad revenue, but it also shed so many viewers that it slipped below NBC and CBS after being the top-rated network in 2000.

News sources: Financial Times; News source: MediaGuardian.co.uk