Jim Pattison Broadcast Group offers early retirement, lays off 40 in pandemic cuts

Jim Pattison Broadcast Group (JPBG) has announced that it’s laying off 40 staff at its stations and has offered early retirement packages to another 30 as it looks to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on its operations.

With the voluntary departures, the staff losses represent about a 10% reduction in the company’s workforce.

In a memo sent to staff Friday morning, President Rod Schween said for a company focused on growing positions, making staff reductions was an incredibly difficult decision. He cited second quarter revenues which came in at less than half 2019 earnings for the quarter.

“While forward revenue bookings are slowly improving, the recent rise in Covid cases in all regions we operate in highlights the significant challenges that will remain in the months ahead. Most importantly, we still do not know exactly when business will return to levels that will sustain our operating costs, never mind return to a level where we can achieve profitability. Not all our existing clients will have the resources to survive until consumer spending returns to more normal levels, and those that do will undoubtedly continue to see an impact to their advertising budgets,” wrote Schween.

“The changes our clients are facing are not temporary or short-lived. Because of this, our organization will continue to feel the consequences well into the future,” he continued. “To prepare, we have decided to make these fundamental changes by reducing the size of our workforce and implement new operational strategies.” 

Schween said the pandemic has accelerated a revenue decline that was already happening in the industry and will force the company to pivot to new platforms much quicker than anticipated.

The resulting restructuring will see a redistribution of accounts where sales roles have changed. News, creative, promotion and digital departments in some markets will also step up to assist other operations impacted. As well, new network midday shows will begin rolling out next week. Other staff will be asked to adjust their roles or working hours.

Schween told Broadcast Dialogue that the cuts were made, carefully assessing resources market to market.

“We really looked at…what are our needs in the market, what is our staffing situation, what are our talent levels, what do we see us needing going forward,” said Schween, noting that some markets weren’t impacted at all.

Of those that were eliminated, Schween said he was “heartened” by their professionalism.

“I’m not surprised based on the quality of people we have, but I’ve been really heartened to see how people understood the situation in our industry,” said Schween. “I hope there are ways we can find to bring them back into the organization, but other companies will be fortunate to have them.”


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