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The logo for Bell Media, owned by BCE Inc., is displayed on a Toronto building in a handout photo. (Darren Goldstein/Handout)
The logo for Bell Media, owned by BCE Inc., is displayed on a Toronto building in a handout photo. (Darren Goldstein/Handout)

CTV slashes staff, episodes from W5 newsmagazine show Add to ...

Stung by a drop in advertising, CTV is slashing its current-affairs coverage, axing half of the producers from its flagship newsmagazine W5.

The show will produce up to 40 per cent fewer episodes for the new season, cutting as many as nine of its usual 23 episodes.

“These decisions are never easy,” said Wendy Freeman, the president of CTV News, in a statement provided to The Globe and Mail. “However the broadcast industry currently faces severe financial pressures due to changing viewer habits, along with a sharp decline in advertising revenues. In spite of these reductions, the award-winning W5 team intends to continue the important work of delivering investigative and inspirational stories that Canadians have come to rely on for nearly 50 years.”

Launched in 1966, W5 is the longest-running newsmagazine/documentary program in North America. Last year, it received the prestigious Gordon Sinclair Award for Broadcast Journalism from the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television.

It is eliminating a total of seven positions, including three of its six producers as well as a film crew and an editor.

The cuts come as CTV’s owner Bell Media slashes a number of its other operations due to what it characterized as “financial pressures” on its advertising-supported and subscription-based specialty TV channels, echoing other broadcasters. Earlier this summer, CTV News Channel cancelled its primetime Kevin Newman Live program after just seven months. Newman announced last week that he would be joining W5 for the new season.

Bell Media’s radio division, which expanded to 106 stations after last year’s $3-billion acquisition of Astral Media, is also slashing operations. On Thursday, the company laid off three veteran reporters from its flagship Toronto talk radio station Newstalk 1010: morning anchor Evelyn Macko, Queens Park Bureau chief Katie Franzios, and Amber Gero, who had been with the station for more than 14 years. It also cut positions at three of its music stations in Ontario.

BCE Inc., the parent company of Bell Media, owns 15 per cent of The Globe and Mail.

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