Canada public broadcaster OKs budget, cuts may loom

Wed Mar 18, 2009 12:03pm EDT
 
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By Wojtek Dabrowski

TORONTO (Reuters) - Asset sales and layoffs are still on the table at the Canadian Broadcasting Corp after the public broadcaster's board of directors approved its budget for the next 12 months, a CBC spokesman said on Wednesday.

Spokesman Marco Dube wouldn't comment further, but added that the broadcaster plans to make a more detailed announcement to its employees before the end of the month.

The CBC, like other media companies, has struggled with a sharp drop in advertising revenue as the recession forces marketers to slash spending.

To cope with the weak ad market, the CBC is looking at a wide swath of options, from selling radio and television assets, to adding more American TV programing to its schedule and consolidating local stations.

"Asset sales are still on the table," Dube said, adding that any such move would require the approval of the federal government.

Airing ads on the CBC's radio services is not being considered, he said.

Layoffs are expected to be part of any cost-cutting plan at the CBC. Dube said the broadcaster is facing decisions that "will affect our services, our programs and our people."

The CBC receives more than C$1 billion ($787.4 million) in government funding each year. Aside from this, the CBC generates about C$600 million a year in revenue from commercial activities, including C$340 million from advertising.

($1=$1.27 Canadian)

(Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski; editing by Peter Galloway)