CBC slashing jobs, budget
TORONTO—The CBC is slashing 657 full-time positions over two years and no longer will pursue broadcast rights to professional sports as it grapples with a budget shortfall it blamed on poor TV ratings, a softened advertising market, and stiff competition from private rival networks.
The public broadcaster announced a swath of cuts yesterday that will shave $130 million from its 2014-15 budget while gutting CBC Sports and reducing local news coverage.
“There’s no easy way to deliver news like this,” Lacroix said in prepared remarks that were posted online moments after his private address.
“I know many of you are sad. I know there will be many questions,” he remarked.
“We will answer them straight up, both in our Q&A session today, in the meetings that will follow, and as things take shape over the coming days.”
Heather Conway, executive vice-president of English Services, said the equivalent of 334 full-time jobs will come from her branch.
Of that, about 115 full-time positions will come from CBC News and Centres.
It’s expected to save roughly $82 million.
The belt-tightening—which will incur one-time severance costs of $33.5 million—are geared to guiding the corporation “towards a smaller, more nimble, and more open public broadcaster,” Lacroix said.
But it will mean coverage of “fewer events and fewer sports,” including less amateur sports, and the cancellation of planned regional expansions.
About 38 jobs will be lost from CBC Sports, roughly 40 percent.
Nevertheless, Lacroix said CBC/Radio-Canada will maintain its news-gathering capabilities in the regions and remain committed to “signature events of national importance such as the Olympics.”
But only if they make money.
“We will only broadcast events that allow us to break even,” Lacroix said in the statement.
When it comes to professional sports, CBC said it no longer can compete with private rivals that have specialty channels and multiple media platforms.
Last November, the CBC lost the rights to longtime staple “Hockey Night in Canada” to Rogers Media, which paid a staggering $5.2 billion for a 12-year broadcast deal with the NHL that will put games on channels including City, Sportsnet, Sportsnet ONE, Sportsnet 360, and FX Canada.
The CBC will continue to air “HNIC” under a four-year sub-licensing deal but will surrender editorial control—and all advertising revenue—to Rogers.
Meanwhile, CBC-TV programming also took a hit from private rivals, with CBC noting its prime-time TV schedule “performed poorly in attracting 25- to 54-year-old viewers”—considered the most important demographic for advertisers.
Conway said the network is looking to new shows, including the Eugene Levy comedy “Schitt’s Creek,” to draw in younger viewers, as well as cheaper unscripted programs “that aren’t necessarily the kinds of things that everybody else is doing.”
“When you’re going to take some risks with this stuff, you can’t blow your brains out with these hugely-expensive shows that then have a high risk of either they succeed or they fail,” she noted.