Quebecor-owned TVA Group has announced major changes “to secure its future at a time of crisis for the global media industry,” that will include the elimination of 547 positions or 31% of the network’s current workforce.
The sweeping layoffs will encompass 300 positions in in-house production, 98 positions related to the operation of TVA’s local stations, and 149 positions in other departments. The media group says employees will receive a minimum of 16 weeks notice, from today, with a transition committee established for those who may wish to continue their careers elsewhere within Quebecor.
In its third-quarter financial results released today, TVA Group reported a year-to-date loss of nearly $13 million in the Broadcasting segment.
Citing profound changes, namely the “globalization of television viewing, driven by the proliferation of on-demand digital broadcasting platforms” and “the tectonic shift in advertising spending” to web giants like Google, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, TVA Group says it’s implementing a three-pronged reorganization plan.
Going forward, the network says it will focus on its role as a broadcaster and end in-house production of entertainment content by its TVA Productions subsidiary. Current in-house productions Le Tricheur, La Poule aux œufs d’or and VLOG will be outsourced to external independent producers, with the morning shows Salut Bonjour and Salut Bonjour Week-end, newscasts, the TVA and LCN public affairs programs, and some TVA Sports programs continuing to be produced in-house.
Quebecor’s news division will be restructured across TVA, LCN, Le Journal de Montréal, Le Journal de Québec, QUB radio, 24 heures, TVA Sports, TVA Publications magazines, and other digital brands. They’ll be brought together under one roof by next summer at 4545 Frontenac Street in Montreal and a similar hub in Quebec City. The company says respective outlets will retain editorial control over their content, while opening the door to pooling expertise and news gathering. As a condition of licence, the TVA and LCN newsrooms will be managed separately and independently of the other media properties.
TVA Group will reorganize its news crews based in Montréal, Québec City and its local stations in the rest of Québec. TVA’s Québec City teams will now record newscasts for all other local stations, to be delivered by a single anchor. Reporters will be maintained in the field in eastern Québec, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivières, with the company clarifying that TVA affiliates in Carleton, Gatineau, Rivière-du-Loup and Rouyn won’t be impacted.
The company also plans to consolidate its real estate holdings outside Montréal and Québec City to lower the operating costs of local stations. Following the relocation of the aforementioned media properties, TVA Group’s Corporate Services and the Quebecor Content, Quebecor Expertise Media and Quebecor Out-of-Home teams will relocate to Quebecor’s head office. TVA Group says it’s still contemplating the future use of its headquarters at 1600 De Maisonneuve Blvd. East and some of its local stations, saying it would like to entertain the possibility of converting the Montréal building to social housing in concert with municipal authorities and the Québec government.
“The deficit TVA Group is currently running is simply no longer sustainable,” said Pierre Karl Péladeau, acting President and CEO of TVA Group and President and CEO of Quebecor, in a company announcement. “We have a responsibility to correct the situation. TVA has historically been an important vehicle for Québec culture, language and news. We have a duty to preserve it and ensure its sustainability. The necessary measures we are taking today will change the way we do business in order to withstand the market pressures and face the competition. We will refocus our activities, reduce our operating costs and concentrate on the strengths that set us apart and make TVA Québec’s favourite television network. Our goal is to be able to continue offering viewers original Québec content, to continue investing, and to bring all Quebecers reliable coverage of news and major sporting events.”
“While the situation leaves us no choice but to make these major decisions, it is difficult to see such committed and talented people leave us,” Péladeau continued. “They have helped make TVA Québec’s most popular network. I am grateful for their dedication and I thank them sincerely.
“For over ten years, TVA Group has been telling government bodies and regulators that the situation is urgent. Canada’s private media companies must be able to operate in a modernized ecosystem that can adapt to a borderless digital world. More than ever, this demands regulatory relief, flexibility and tax credits that more adequately and equitably reflect the conditions facing broadcasters and producers in the television industry. The fact is that not only has nothing changed, but the situation is now worse than ever. The lack of consideration for our industry, coupled with the mounting challenges it confronts, has forced us to take unprecedented action,” said Péladeau.
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