CBC management set to announce big cuts, curtailing of sports programming

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

CBC employees are once again bracing for deep budget cuts and job losses.

According to reports, CBC/Radio Canada President Hubert Lacroix will address all employees via a conference call on Thursday afternoon to outline how the national broadcaster will deal with weak industry-wide advertising, poor TV ratings and the loss of NHL broadcast rights.

According to Friends of Canadian Broadcasting's Ian Morrison, the announcement will be substantial.

His sources from within the CBC have told him that the dollar amount of the cuts will amount to between $130 million and $140 million with about 70 per cent of the cuts coming on the English-operations side.

"This will involve layoffs in the range of 200 people on the French side and about 350 on the English side," Morrison told Yahoo Canada News, noting that younger, less-senior staffers will bare the brunt of the layoffs.

"In terms of programming, what I've heard is that they're going to really curtail anything that has to do with sports. That's a decision that has been made. They're going to close down sports departments — things of that nature."

Morrison adds that some non-sport television and radio programs — in both English and French — could also be axed.

In fiscal year 2013, CBC's annual budget was $1.7 billion, with $1.15 billion coming from taxpayers. As of March 2013, the national broadcaster employed 7,116 full-time individuals.

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CBC's funding and business model has taken a beating over the past several years. In the 2012, the Harper government slashed its funding by $115-million over five years.

They took another big hit, earlier this year, losing the rights to their biggest advertising revenue maker — NHL hockey — to Rogers Sportsnet.

But that's something, says, Morrison, CBC management should have been preparing for.

"President Lacroix is really held with little regard in the senior ranks of the Corporation at the moment," Morisson said.

"He has known or should have known for a couple of years there was a good chance that CBC would not be able to renew it's Hockey Night in Canada agreement with the NHL.

"They had not used the lead-time...to plan for the future. In other words, to come up with what is colloquially known as a 'plan b.'"

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Despite the recent cut-backs and lack of planning, polls continually show that Canadians support the CBC in big numbers.

A Nanos Research poll from last summer, suggests 80 per cent of Canadians would increase CBC funding or maintain its current levels while only 16 per cent would decrease it.

(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)

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