CBC may sell some services to cut costs

Fri Mar 13, 2009 12:40pm EDT
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By Wojtek Dabrowski

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian Broadcasting Corp may propose to sell radio and television services, consolidate local stations or introduce more U.S.-produced programming under a cost-cutting plan to be presented to its board next week.

Senior CBC executives, led by Chief Executive Hubert Lacroix, will meet on Monday and Tuesday with the public broadcaster's directors to present their strategy for countering a severe slump in the advertising market, spokesman Jeff Keay said.

The CBC relies on government subsidies as well as advertising sales to meet its budget. Like every other media company, it has struggled with a sharp drop in ad revenues as the recession forces marketers to slash spending.

For the fiscal year ending March 31, the CBC has forecast an ad revenue shortfall of up to C$65 million ($51.2 million). Even so, it thinks it can break even this year. The medium-term outlook, however, is of more concern, CBC has said.

Lacroix told reporters in late February that "all the options are on the table" in terms of trying sell assets and generate revenue to make up for the shortfall.

The CBC, known for internationally popular shows such as "Little Mosque on the Prairie," hasn't specified what it could decide to sell.

Meanwhile, using more U.S. TV programming would cut costs, while generating profits that CBC could in turn reinvest in Canadian content.

The CBC would have to balance importing more American shows with its mandate to provide Canadians with distinctly Canadian content.   Continued...