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Canada’s public broadcaster to cut 10% of workforce

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) is cutting 600 jobs, or 10 percent of its workforce, in the face of financial difficulties
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) is cutting 600 jobs, or 10 percent of its workforce, in the face of financial difficulties - Copyright AFP/File Oli SCARFF
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) is cutting 600 jobs, or 10 percent of its workforce, in the face of financial difficulties - Copyright AFP/File Oli SCARFF
Marion THIBAUT

Canada’s public broadcaster on Monday announced it would cut 600 jobs, or 10 percent of its workforce, as it confronts financial challenges sparked by a drop in television ad revenues and competition from digital news outlets.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) said the first job cuts would come shortly but that most would take effect over the next 12 months. 

“CBC/Radio-Canada is not immune to the upheaval facing the Canadian media industry,” president and CEO Catherine Tait said in a statement. 

“We’ve successfully managed serious structural declines in our business for many years, but we no longer have the flexibility to do so without reductions.”

A total of 250 jobs will be slashed at CBC, the group’s English-language network, and another 250 at French-language Radio- Canada, with technicians and other support staff making up the final 100 jobs to be slashed. 

An additional 200 vacant positions will be eliminated, it said in a statement.

The public broadcaster “will also be reducing its English and French programming budgets for the next fiscal year,” it said.

“This will result in reduced renewals and acquisitions, fewer new television series and episodes of existing shows, as well as fewer digital original series.”

That will allow the company to make up a CAN$125 million (US$92.3 million) budget shortfall. 

Radio-Canada’s workers’ union called it a “dark day” for the broadcaster and for access to information. 

– Difficult media climate –

CBC has been particularly hard hit by the drop in television advertising revenues. 

In early October, CBC announced that job creation was frozen until further notice, and that those who left the company would not be replaced. 

“We understand how concerning this is to the people affected and to the Canadians who depend on our programs and services,” Tait said.

“We will have more details in the months ahead, but we are doing everything we can to minimize the impact of these measures.”

Many media outlets in Canada — as in other parts of the world — are currently in dire financial straits, and the public broadcaster is not the first to announce a redundancy plan.

After months of negotiations, Canada and Google struck a deal last week for the tech giant to pay compensation to Canadian media companies in exchange for the distribution of their content.

Google will provide financial support of $100 million a year, indexed to inflation.

CBC has not seen similar budget cuts since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took office in 2015.

The Canadian Media Guild, which represents thousands of members including staff at CBC, called on the government to act to ensure the broadcaster’s funding.

Guild president Annick Forest said the CMG was “dismayed and frustrated by the enormous impact these budgetary cuts will have on our members, the workers responsible for creating the content… on our public airwaves and platforms.”

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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