CBC faces 10% staff cuts

Canadian media co. hit by dwindling ad sales

MONTREAL — Canuck pubcaster CBC is set to lay off approximately 800 full-time staffers to address an anticipated shortfall this year of C$171 million ($139 million). The cuts rep roughly 10% of the public TV and radio service’s overall staff.

The red ink is forecast due to a projected downswing in advertising sales as a result of the slumping economy, plus the cost of aging infrastructure and the increased cost of producing programming.

“We’ve done and will continue to do everything we can to minimize the impact of the situation on our staff,” said CBC chief exec Hubert Lacroix. “But in a company where 60% of the overall budget goes to salaries, it’s simply impossible to bridge a gap of this magnitude without having a major impact on people.”

The New Democratic Party has attacked the ruling Tory government for not making enough of an effort to help CBC deal with this financial crisis.

“These cuts are massive. They’re going to have serious impact, and they were all completely avoidable,” said NDP culture critic and Member of Parliament Charlie Angus. “What we’re seeing is a major bleedoff of the public broadcaster due to purely ideological spite from the Conservatives. The kind of cuts that are happening are going to affect every region, and I don’t see any other justification other than the fact that the Conservatives have been fundamentally ambivalent or opposed to public broadcasting (for years).”

CBC also plans to cut back regional radio and TV service; decrease current-affairs, drama and music programming; cut news programming; air more repeats; trim marketing budgets; and reduce executive compensation by 10%-20%.

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