The cuts announced by CBC president Hubert Lacroix today to deal with the punishing budget delivered last week by the federal government will cut the workforce by 650 and reduce original Canadian content on radio, TV and the web. The Canadian Media Guild unit will be reduced by 275 positions by 2015, with the bulk of the cuts coming in the first year as CBC management closes a $225 million budget hole. The job cuts appear to be focused in the larger centres, including Toronto, Montreal and Halifax.
“The public will find less original content and more reruns on CBC and Radio-Canada while our members will be stretched even thinner to try to deliver what Canadians deserve from their public broadcaster,” says Marc-Philippe Laurin, president of the CBC branch of the CMG.
“It seems that no part of the organization is spared from the effects of the cuts and we fear CBC will be less responsive and innovative in meeting the needs of Canadians. This budget cut, following years of cuts and underfunding, is clearly pushing the CBC further into a commercial model.”
The cuts will reduce original programming for television – including fewer documentaries, scripted dramas and daytime children’s shows, and speed up news integration. Analog over-the-air TV transmission will be shut down this summer as will the RCI shortwave facility in Sackville in October. CBC will sell digital station “bold,” as well as buildings in Calgary and Halifax and lease space back. The Halifax move will close the only turnkey TV production studio east of Montreal. In addition, CBC is applying to the CRTC to put advertising and sponsorships on Espace Musique and CBC Radio 2 and the latter will do even less live recording.
The Guild has been advised that this year’s staffing cuts are slated to be completed by the end of July, with redundancy notices going to affected permanent employees beginning the last week of April. The downsizing process will be handled in a joint union-management process in each location affected by the cuts.
The CMG is examining CBC’s plan to have employees pay a greater share of pension contributions. The Guild believes the CBC cannot impose this increase unilaterally and is seeking a conversation with management.
More details of how the cuts will be implemented are expected in the coming days and we will keep you informed of the developments.