Canwest to pinkslip 560 staffers

Co. eliminates 5% of workforce

TORONTO — Canwest Global Communications is eliminating approximately 560 jobs, roughly 5% of its workforce, through buyouts, attrition and layoffs, the Winnipeg-based media company announced Wednesday.

Citing the need to speed up streamlining in the face of the economic slowdown, Canwest said in a release that it expects to reduce annual operating costs by about C$61 million (U.S. $49.4 million).

Canwest’s broadcast division will shed 210 jobs through restructuring news operations at its E! stations and eliminating other positions across all departments, while the publishing division will lose 350 posts through restructuring community newspaper services, streamlining production and reducing Web operations at some newspapers.

Canwest prexy-CEO Leonard Asper said in a statement that the layoffs will not impact the company’s strategy to invest in digital online, mobile and specialty channels.

“Although it was a very difficult decision to implement staff reductions, we believe that these actions are required to enable Canwest to maintain its strength, build market position and be ready at the first sign of an economic recovery,” he said.

The company reported losses of about $22.9 million in its third quarter, with debt and other expenditures quashing a 15% rise in revenue. The company will release its fourth-quarter results Friday.

Canada’s largest media company, Canwest acquired the Southam chain of newspaper and other assets in 2001 and bought Alliance Atlantis Communications and its specialty channels in January 2007. The company employs 9,800 people in Canada and abroad and owns media properties in New Zealand, Australia, Turkey, Indonesia, Singapore, the U.K. and the U.S.

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