Quebecor Media has announced it’s cutting 240 jobs, including 140 positions across TVA Group’s broadcasting, publishing and film production divisions.
The restructuring was announced Thursday as Montreal-headquartered TVA Group reported its fiscal 2022 year-end results showing a drop in revenue across all of its business segments. The corporation’s consolidated adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) was $19,385,000, compared to $80,283,000 the previous year. Consolidated revenues were down 4.6% overall with the corporation recording a net loss of $0.21 per share, compared to earnings per share of $0.71 for 2021. Q4 revenues of $171.9 million marked a slight year-over-year increase of $23,000.
“Fourth quarter results continued to be impacted by declining profitability across all our segments and in the various industries in which we operate,” said Pierre Karl Péladeau, acting President and CEO of TVA Group, in a release. “The well-established downward trend in television audiences, due in part to multinational subscription video-on-demand services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and others, combined with unfair and disloyal competition from Société Radio–Canada, which is engaging in a ratings race that is not within its mandate and is taking a large share of advertising revenues, over and above the fees it charges for subscriptions to Tou.TV Extra, are further undermining Quebec’s media outlets, their sustainability and our television industry’s existing ecosystem.”
TVA Group says profitability losses in the Broadcasting segment over the last year were mainly due to a nearly 20% increase in operating expenses at TVA Network as a result of increased spending on content. Specialty channels were affected by a decrease in advertising revenue, with the exception of TVA Sports, where EBITDA improved due to the significant costs incurred during the unpredictable 2020-21 NHL broadcast season as COVID-19 raged on.
Revenue was also down at MELS, with lower soundstage, mobile and equipment rental activity as well as lower demand for visual effects services, while postproduction services continued to grow with a 146.8% increase in adjusted EBITDA. Production & Distribution segment revenue decreased, mainly due to lower gross margin related to international sales of films produced by Incendo. Earnings in the Magazines segment also suffered due to a 23.6% decrease in government assistance, combined with 16.0% and 7.3% decreases in advertising and subscription revenues, respectively.
“The current economic downturn is creating considerable uncertainty in the marketplace, as are the systemic factors I have already mentioned,” continued Peladeau. “As regards the latter, all levels of government must act before it is too late. We are saying this for the umpteenth time. No other industry faces competitors that have no accountability. The CRTC needs to address certain issues, particularly Radio-Canada’s unfair behaviour in scooping up advertising dollars, which are our conventional network’s only source of revenue, whereas the public broadcaster is heavily government subsidized. This creates a blatantly uneven playing field for private broadcasters.”
“In addition, there is the highly prejudicial treatment of all our specialty channels by the distributor Bell TV. Unlike all other broadcasting distribution undertakings in Quebec, Bell TV continues to pay fees below the market value of our channels, while continuing to favour its own channels, creating a permanent conflict of interest between its role as a broadcaster and as a distributor of competing channels. Parliament must also act quickly to pass Bill C-18 and ensure that the use of our news content is recognized and paid for at fair value by the digital giants that are currently siphoning advertising dollars away from Canadian businesses,” he added.
“Faced with these circumstances and the lack of regulatory and government intervention, which has long been evident and which we have repeatedly raised with public authorities, we are forced to take appropriate measures in order to restore our financial position and ensure TVA Group’s sustainability.”
Peladeau said the company will move forward with a comprehensive plan that will see significant reductions made to operating expenses across all segments. That includes the elimination of 100 additional positions at other Quebecor entities that provide services to TVA Group.
“It was a difficult but necessary decision in the current environment,” said Peladeau.
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