The CBC has announced a series of cuts, including the cancellation of the CBC News Network show Connect with Mark Kelley and CBC Radio One’s foreign-news program Dispatches, as part of its need to save $86-million over three years.
In the aftermath of an overall reduction of $115-million in federal funding, CBC’s English services’ executives also announced Tuesday they will no longer commission radio dramas, ending a tradition that included the Afghanada series, which ran for six seasons.
The CBC’s in-house documentary unit will also be reduced, and CBC-TV will develop six fewer series, resulting in 175 fewer hours of original programming. This will mean more repeats and shuffles in the schedule. According to the Canadian Media Guild, the main union representing CBC workers outside of Quebec, 175 hours represents about a quarter of original programming airtime.
“Yes, it will have an effect on television. It will have an effect on what viewers see. But we also know that we have some pretty strong programming. And if it’s going to take more repeats to get there, we’re hoping that Canadians will come with us,” said Kirstine Stewart, vice-president in charge of the CBC’s English services.
Also at risk are one-off television specials. This season, the CBC produced 25 specials. To save money, the public broadcaster will concentrate more on developing one-hour original series.
With television programming and news taking the brunt of the budget cuts, 88 news jobs will be cut at the national network and local levels, said Stewart. In total this year, 215 jobs will be cut from English Services by June 21, encompassing other areas, such as operations, programming and administrative jobs at the broadcaster.
Because the CBC has been holding some positions vacant in anticipation of the federal budget reductions, Marc-Philippe Laurin, president of the CBC/Radio-Canada branch of the Canadian Media Guild, said some staff receiving layoff notices might be able to transfer to a few of those openings. Yet movement within the CBC, as senior employees bump junior staff, is expected to be widespread.
The latest staff cuts come after 800 jobs were cut from the CBC’s English and French services in 2009. The budget was trimmed at that time by $171-million.
“We underwent a reduction in 2009, which looked at some of the areas that wouldn’t be as obvious to viewers because they were behind the scenes,” Stewart said. “We did that already. There wasn’t a lot of room to do that again.”