CBC may cut roughly 600 positions on Thursday, lobby group says by Christine Dobby

Apr 10, 2014

Source: National Post

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation could be facing layoffs in the range of 600 positions as it grapples with a financial shortfall of $130-million to $150-million, according to a lobby group that watches the national broadcaster closely.

The CBC will hold an all-employee meeting Thursday and Ian Morrison, spokesman for Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, said Wednesday specific details of the announcement “remain fluid” but that he expects it to be in line with those numbers based on conversations with multiple senior-level sources inside the broadcaster.

The lobby group predicted the sports division “will be gutted” and that cuts will affect both English and French services with the English division likely to be hit about twice as hard.

CBC will lose Hockey Night in Canada later this year when Rogers Communications Inc. takes over responsibility for the broadcast as part of the $5.2-billion 12-year exclusive deal with the National Hockey League it struck last November.

CBC will continue to air the program on Saturday nights and for playoff games for the next four years, but the advertising revenue will disappear.

Mr. Morrison said Wednesday the loss of hockey is one factor but added that he believes management at the corporation failed to adequately prepare for the loss of the NHL rights along with the effect of government cuts announced in the 2012 budget that were phased in over three years and now fully implemented.

CBC President Hubert Lacroix, is set to address a town hall meeting of all CBC and Radio-Canada employees on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. and Heather Conway and Louis Lalande, executive vice-presidents of English- and French-language services, respectively, will join him.

“The focus of that meeting will be about our financial pressures and how we’re going to go forward,” spokesman Chuck Thompson said Monday. He said the loss of Hockey Night in Canada is one of the pressures facing the broadcaster but that he could not go into further detail on other factors.

The CBC was not immediately available to comment on the scope of the cuts forecast by Friends of Canadian Broadcasting Wednesday.

Sources told the Financial Post earlier this week that Mr. Lacroix is expected to share a rough number of layoffs on Thursday and cuts to the sports division are likely. It will take several weeks for specific job losses to become clear as various departments make decisions about what roles to eliminate and union seniority will also play a role. The Canadian Media Guild represents the majority of the corporation’s workers, with about 5,000 permanent, contract and temporary members. A number of other unions represent employees in Quebec.

This would be the third major round of job cuts in five years after the CBC announced plans to lay off up to 800 workers in 2009 and about 650 employees in 2012.

© National Post