The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has responded to the Conservative Government's $115 million reduction in funding to the national public broadcaster over the next three years by announcing plans to cut 650 full-time jobs and adjust its programming.
"We made a lot of difficult choices, gut-wrenching choices actually," CBC/Radio-Canada president and CEO Hubert T. Lacroix said in a speech delivered to CBC/Radio-Canada employees at a town hall meeting. He also said senior executives had been working for months on examining ways to meet the requirements of the Deficit Reduction Action Plan (DRAP).
The majority of these jobs, 450, will be eliminated this year, another 150 next year, and the remainder in 2014 to 2015.
Other cost-cutting measures include increasing self-generated revenues, cutting back on original programming, the sale and/or lease of real estate, shutting down analogue television transmitters, and adding commercials to music radio stations CBC Radio 2 and Espace musique.
"Like all organizations, we were instructed to provide the Government with a detailed list of how we would implement a cut of 5% or 10% to our budget," Lacroix said.
"We made it clear that reductions of that size couldn't be done simply through efficiencies. We provided a detailed list of the programs and services that would be affected under those two scenarios. The Government then made its decision.
"This has not been fun, and it's the second time since 2009 that we have had to come up with plans to reduce our programs and services and eliminate jobs."
The $115 million government cut includes the $60 million that the CBC had received since 2001 to invest in Canadian programming.
"After months of discussion with Government highlighting the values and importance of public broadcasting and its impact on the Canadian economy, the Government still decided to reduce our appropriations by $115 million. I will let Canadians decide for themselves if this is a fair cut. For our part, we need to adjust and move on," Lacroix told its employees.
"The Government has laid out our appropriations for the next three years. We now need to plan our finances over that period to allow us to meet two key objectives: (i) maintain our capacity to fulfill our mandate under the Broadcasting Act, and (ii) continue to drive Strategy 2015 by delivering high-quality Canadian programming, enhancing our regional presence and local impact, and investing more in digital platforms."
In terms of radio properties CBC Radio 2 and French-language Espace musique, Lacroix said that CBC will be seeking advertising and sponsorships "as an alternative to more drastic solutions." The application for a license change has already been submitted to the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
"The decision to add advertising/sponsorship won't change the programming mandate of CBC Radio 2 and Espace musique," Lacroix explained. "It will, however, ensure that through both Radio 2 and Espace musique, we can continue to be a point of discovery for Canadian music fans, offering a music discovery experience, across a broad range of genres, with more multi-platform music content than any other broadcaster in Canada. CBC Radio 2 and Espace musique remain deeply committed to supporting and showcasing the best in Canadian music across a broad range of genres.
"And yes, we did consider commercializing CBC Radio One and Première Chaîne, and chose not to go there. We wanted our 'talk radio' to stay commercial free and made that choice."