CBC to cut 800 jobs

Wed Mar 25, 2009 4:09pm EDT
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By Wojtek Dabrowski

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian Broadcasting Corp, the publicly owned operator of national television and radio networks, will chop about 800 jobs and seek to sell assets to fight a growing financial shortfall caused by a sharp advertising downturn, it said on Wednesday.

The CBC, which has about 9,850 employees and receives more than C$1 billion ($813 million) a year in funding from the federal government, said it expects the shortfall to hit C$171 million in its 2009-2010 fiscal year.

It said its projections assume the government will authorize C$125 million in asset sales. It blamed its woes on weak ad markets, higher costs, a base-salary funding shortfall and aging infrastructure.

About 400 employees are being let go from the CBC's English-language service, 335 will depart the French-language arm and 70 are being cut in other areas of the company, said chief executive Hubert Lacroix.

"It's not easy," he told Reuters.

Like other media companies, the CBC, which operates television and radio networks in English and French, is struggling with a plunge in ad revenue as the recession forces marketers to reduce spending. It has also been difficult to predict when a recovery may take place, which further complicates broadcasters' plans.

"The kind of visibility that we have is very foggy, like the other broadcasters," Lacroix said.

The CBC also said on Wednesday it will scale back regional radio and TV programing and make cuts in news, drama, music and current affairs. As well, it will cut executive compensation by up to 20 percent, trim discretionary spending and reduce hiring.   Continued...

<p>A sign is seen at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation building in Toronto, March 25, 2009. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>