CBC eliminates 657 positions as part of $130 million in cuts

Apr 10, 2014

CBC/Radio Canada has announced $130 million in budget cuts because of lower ad revenues and the loss of Hockey Night in Canada.

Source: Toronto Star

People watch the CBC broadcast of their own cutbacks from inside the main foyer of the CBC building in Toronto on Thursday.
By: Joel Eastwood Staff Reporter, Published on Thu Apr 10 2014

CBC/Radio Canada is eliminating the equivalent of 657 full-time positions over the next two years as part of $130 million in budget cuts.

CBC President Hubert Lacroix told staff Thursday the cuts are necessary because of shrinking ad revenues and the loss of Hockey Night in Canada.

“As of today, CBC and Radio-Canada are out of the business of competing with the privates for professional sports rights,” Lacroix said, according to speaking notes posted by the CBC.

The cuts will affect 334 full-time jobs in the CBC’s English services, CBC News reported. The public broadcaster will incur one-time severance costs of $33.5 million as a result of the layoffs, Lacroix said, and there will be no voluntary retirement program.

Lacroix said planned expansions into new regions such as London, Ont., have also been cancelled.

This is the third round of job cuts at the CBC in the last five years.

In 2009, the broadcaster eliminated 800 jobs in an effort to save $171 million. Another 650 positions were axed in 2012 after the federal budget reduced CBC’s parliamentary appropriation from $1.03 billion in 2011-12 to $913 million in 2014-15.

In an effort to generate more money, CBC started running commercials on music networks Radio 2 and Espace Musique. But the venture has fallen $13 million short of expectations, Lacroix said.

“This is a major disappointment. We’re trying to fix this, but the initial projections won’t be met,” he told staff.

Television advertising revenues were also down overall, and the network’s prime-time TV schedule was performing poorly with 25-to-54-year-olds, a key demographic for advertisers, Lacroix said.

The latest blow was the loss of the rights to Hockey Night in Canada to rival broadcaster Rogers last fall. Under the terms of the new partnership, hockey games will still air on CBC on Saturday nights, but CBC will not earn any of the ad revenue. That loss in revenue is estimated at $100 million.

CBC will no longer bid for the rights to professional sports, Lacroix said, and would cover fewer events, fewer sports, and reduce its involvement in amateur sports.

“We remain committed to signature events of national significance such as the Olympics,” Lacroix said.

Ian Morrison, the spokesperson of advocacy group Friends for Canadian Broadcasting, called the cuts a significant blow to the CBC.

“CBC’s presence in Canada’s regions is going to be further weakened,” Morrison said.

CBC currently has 6,994 permanent employees, 859 contract employees and 329 temporary employees.

© Toronto Star