Announcing 657 jobs and $130 million in cuts, hints of new ad and media plans emerge
Faced with reductions in government funding and the loss of lucrative NHL revenue, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has announced “immediate and difficult” cuts of $130 million and the elimination of 657 jobs over the next two years.
CBC president Hubert Lacroix informed staff of the cuts during a town-hall meeting on Thursday. In a release, Lacroix said that the cuts represent “tough decisions necessary to balance our current budget.”
Lacroix said that CBC/Radio-Canada needs to “re-imagine” itself in a changing media landscape to continue delivering on its mandate.
The public broadcaster said it is faced with numerous financial challenges, including an industry-wide softening of the ad market; “disappointing” schedule performance among key demographics on CBC television; “much lower-than-expected” ad revenues from services including Espace musique and CBC Radio 2; and the loss of NHL hockey to Rogers.
CBC also announced that it will no longer compete with private broadcasters for professional sports rights, and that its involvement in amateur sports will also be reduced. The broadcaster pledged to only broadcast events that will allow it to break even.
The public broadcaster said it remains committed to “signature events of national importance,” such as the Olympics, but said it will approach these events with new ways of producing, new technologies and new partnership arrangements.
It also announced a new approach to advertising sales, specifically the consolidation of CBC and Radio-Canada’s revenue groups to present a national multiplatform advertising offer.
The CBC said that management’s decisions were influenced by its Strategy 2015: Everyone, Every Way strategic plan and “key pillars” designed to maintain its ability to invest in strategically important areas while providing services that “inform, enlighten and entertain” Canadians.
Nationally, the broadcaster is committed to prime time television, national news and “high-impact” websites.
On a regional basis, the CBC said it remains committed to the various regions and will work to modernize its delivery of services. While pledging to maintain its presence and newsgathering capabilities on a regional basis, Lacroix said that planned expansions – which included plans for a station in London, Ont. – have been cancelled.
Digitally, it will allocate 5% of programming budgets to digital and focus on what it described as “high-impact” and “strategic” initiatives.
“It’s clear we can’t be resizing the public broadcaster every two years,” said Lacroix. “It is equally clear that the media landscape is transforming at an astounding speed. To meet this challenge, we have accelerated a strategic planning exercise that was already underway.”
He said that a new strategic framework to be announced in the coming month will guide its evolution towards a “smaller, more nimble and open” broadcaster. Lacroix said that the announcement marks not an end point, but a “pivot point” into a period of accelerated change.