CBC announces ‘significant’ production cuts as it struggles with flagging ad revenue
TORONTO — The CBC is slashing 25 per cent of its workforce over the next five years, while cutting back evening newscasts and in-house production in a bid to shift its focus from radio and television to digital and mobile services.
The public broadcaster announced its five-year strategic plan Thursday as it grapples with a $130-million budget shortfall due to federal cuts, flagging advertising revenues and the loss of hockey rights to Rogers Media.
By 2020, the broadcaster plans to slash 1,000 to 1,500 jobs, although it says that goal will in part be fulfilled by retirements and attrition. These staff reductions are in addition to the 657 job cuts it announced in April.
In a heated town hall with employees, CBC president Hubert Lacroix faced calls to resign. He said the broadcaster must transform itself from a “producer to a multi-platform broadcaster” in order to stay afloat.
He said that advertising revenues have shifted to global players like Facebook and Google and financial support for public broadcasters has decreased. Even conventional private broadcasters are not profitable, he said.
“The system is broken,” he said. “Meantime, as these shifts are happening, large numbers continue to watch television and listen to radio in traditional ways. In fact, Canadians on average are watching more television, not less.
“So these services will continue to be relevant and essential in this new media universe. We’re actually moving from a conventional world whose model is declining towards a new world that cannot yet pay its own way.”
Lacroix was quoted in a CBC story saying the CBC will not close any stations across the country, but 90-minute evening television newscasts will be cut to 30 or 60 minutes.
“We used to lead with television and radio,” Lacroix was quoted as saying in the story. “Web came and then mobility came. We are reversing, we are inverting the priorities that we have. We’re going to lead now with mobility, we’re going to lead with whatever widget you use.”
The CBC is aiming to double its digital audience so that 18 million Canadians — or roughly half of the country — use its online or mobile services each month by 2020.
CBC announces ‘significant’ production cuts as it struggles with flagging ad revenue | National Post