Canadian public broadcaster the CBC is shedding over 650 jobs in the wake of a decision to slash C$130 million (US$118.4 million) from its 2014 budget.
The pubcaster blamed a funding shortfall and revenue declines as, yesterday, it told staff of the impending cuts, before confirming them in a statement.
The broadcaster will get rid of 657 staff over the next two years, president and CEO Hubert T. Lacroix said. The English-language part of the organisation will lose 334 staff as a cut of C$82 million takes effect.
The pubcaster’s news division will shed 115 job as C$13.3 million is taken from the departmental budget. The Sports division will lose 38 staff.
There will also be a direct impact upon programming with a reduced emphasis on acquiring premium local sports rights. There will also be a smaller number of original drama series and a move away from high-cost reality shows as Lacroix pledged: “We will only broadcast events that allow us to break even.”
Plans to establish a London-based radio station have also been shelved.
Yesterday’s cuts follow previous cost-savings efforts at the broadcaster as it struggles to retain its share of both the advertising revenue pie and the audience in a very competitive Canadian media sector. Federal funding cuts amounting to C$115 million over three years were announced in 2012.
The latest job losses equate to about 8% of the CBC workforce.
Actra, the actors’ advocacy group, responded to the news by demanding a greater focus on locally-originated content and greater government support.
“The CBC is at a critical juncture,” said Ferne Downey, ACTRA national president. “Now is the time we should be reimagining the CBC, strengthening and reinforcing its position as a pillar of Canada’s digital economy and as an important cultural and economic generator. These job losses will make that long road much more difficult. It’s time for the Government to step up to the plate, and make a commitment to stable and long-term funding of the CBC.”