CBC/Radio-Canada is officially cutting 600 positions and will leave another 200 vacancies unfilled as the public broadcaster looks to undertake $125 million in cost-cutting measures for fiscal 2024-25.
Amounting to roughly 10% of CBC/Radio-Canada’s full-time equivalent staff of about 7,900, employees across the country received the news Monday afternoon in two virtual meetings, one in English and one in French.
The public broadcaster says CBC and Radio-Canada will each be cutting in the range of 250 jobs, with the balance coming from Technology & Infrastructure and other corporate divisions.
“Each division will begin phasing-in reductions based on their business plans and operational requirements. Some will begin immediately; most will take effect over the next 12 months,” the broadcaster indicated in a statement.
A CBC spokesperson clarified that, at this time, neither retirement incentives or packages are being offered.
Programming budgets also reduced
The corporation will also be reducing its English and French programming budgets, including $40 million in independent production commissions and program acquisitions, which will translate to fewer renewals, new television series, and episodes of existing shows, as well as a smaller number of original digital series.
CBC says it began implementing over $25 million in discretionary cost reductions – like travel, sponsorships, marketing and delaying new tech initiatives – earlier this year, in addition to a hiring freeze announced in October.
“These pressures are a result of the same structural factors affecting all media companies in Canada, including rising production costs, declining television advertising revenue and fierce competition from the digital giants. CBC/Radio-Canada is also managing forecast reductions to its parliamentary funding beginning in the next fiscal year, including the end of program integrity funding of $21 million received annually since 2021,” the broadcaster stated.
“CBC/Radio-Canada is not immune to the upheaval facing the Canadian media industry. 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,” said President & CEO Catherine Tait. “We understand how concerning this is to the people affected and to the Canadians who depend on our programs and services. We will have more details in the months ahead, but we are doing everything we can to minimize the impact of these measures.”
Marla Boltman, Executive Director, of public broadcaster watchdog FRIENDS (formerly FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting), told Broadcast Dialogue that the layoffs will deal “a heavy and unnecessary blow.”
“Had the Liberal government fulfilled their $400 million election promise to help revitalize CBC/Radio-Canada and make it less reliant on advertising, we would not be here,” said Boltman. “Between the Liberals’ failure to act and their Spring budget cuts to CBC/Radio-Canada, our national public broadcaster is now even more vulnerable to those who seek to tear it down.”
Boltman is calling on the federal government to, at a minimum, restore CBC/Radio-Canada’s budget next year.
The cuts come as bargaining heads into week four on a new collective agreement for CBC employees represented by the Canadian Media Guild (CMG), with the union’s long-standing concerns about the public broadcaster’s reliance on a large number of non-permanent contract staff members, among the issues on the table.
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