Harper budget forces CBC to cut staff by 650, original TV shows

Posted Apr 5, 2012 by Andrew Moran
Over the next three years, the Canadian federal government will slash its $1.1 billion funding for CBC by 10 percent. This has prompted the CBC to make significant changes to its workforce, programs and business model.
go ask alice
In order to save money and pay down its $33.3 billion deficit, the federal government has instituted a number of cost-saving measures (see here for complete details), including a cut of approximately $115 million to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s $1.1 billion funding.
Because of this substantial slashing of its subsidy, Hubert T. Lacroix, CBC president and CEO, announced its comprehensive budget cuts Wednesday at a town hall meeting for CBC employees in Toronto.
“When we add up the reduction to our appropriation, unavoidable cost increases, and the investments that CBC/Radio-Canada needs to make to ensure its continued transformation into a modern public broadcaster, we actually face financial pressures amounting to $200 million over the next three years,” said Lacroix in a media release.
The CBC currently maintains a workforce of 8,900, which makes up 60 percent of its budget. Over the next three years, it will eliminate 650 full-time jobs, including 475 in this fiscal year. The CBC will let go 256 people, Radio-Canada will shed 243 jobs and corporate services will rid itself of 151 employees.
Lacroix noted that the reductions will have an impact on its services. It will reduce the number of original television shows and will air more repeats. When it comes to prime-time programming, it will make its decision about renewals for shows such as “The Rick Mercer Report” and “Arctic Air” in the course of the next few weeks.
It has sought approval from the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to sell commercial advertising on CBC Radio 2 and its French counterpart – CBC Radio One will still not have any advertising.
“We expect to be able to offset that with $50 million in new revenues, which leaves us with about $150 million to account for by way of reductions and operating improvements,” added Lacroix.
Other items on its overhaul include:
- CBC will not expand into a CBC Kids digital channel.
- Radio Canada International will shut down departments in Brazil and Russia and end the production of news bulletins.
- It will end its analogue television services faster.
- CBC will lease and sell off real estate at its Toronto broadcasting centre.
- Expansion into the London, Kamloops, Saskatchewan and Waterloo regions will be delayed between three and 15 months.
More details are expected to be released next week.
Digital Journal reported in February of a report that showed that 730 CBC employees earn at least $100,000, including Lacroix, who earned between $358,500 and $421,600 last year and was given a 2011 Ford Taurus and a driver, who maintained a wage of a minimum of $34,000.
Not enough
The cuts are not making some people happy because they are not enough. Conservative Member of Parliament Larry Miller told the Sun News Network that he wanted to see more cuts, which is something he campaigned and petitioned for in the House of Commons.
“I was expecting a minimum of 10 per cent cut a year and it's 10 per cent over three years,” said Miller.
Meanwhile, other Conservative MPs, like Rob Anders and Garry Breitkreuz, have called upon Parliament to completely end funding for the CBC. Stephen Harper, when he was the Opposition leader, said in the past that he wants CBC to be on a “more commercial footing.”