CBC is cancelling its afternoon business show, On the Money, because of a lack of money, after staff at the public broadcaster were told a shortfall had left it unable to produce all of its current programming while also continuing its digital transformation.
The cancellation marks the first time CBC’s cable news channel will be without regularly scheduled business news coverage since News Network launched as Newsworld in 1989.
The show, hosted by Peter Armstrong, had rebranded from The Exchange to On the Money only last fall. Its final broadcast will be Thursday, June 28.
“The business show has been the cornerstone of our coverage on some of the biggest stories in Canadian history – the development of the oilsands, the tech bubble, the financial crisis, corporate bankruptcies and trade upheavals. Needless to say this decision was undertaken very reluctantly,” said Jennifer McGuire, general manager and editor-in-chief of CBC News, in a note sent to CBC staff.
Ms. McGuire noted that, as part of CBC News “moving to a future where our audience is increasingly consuming our content on digital platforms,” it was necessary to “redirect a portion of its annual budget,” which has “created pressure in our operational budgets.”
Ms. McGuire insisted that it was not a move away from business news coverage. ”Even as editorial resources shrink, serious newsrooms across the country are finding ways to prioritize this type of coverage.”
She added that business stories performed well digitally, “both in terms of page views and engagement. Across all platforms and programs, stories that revolve around trade, equity, pay, work, and countless other financial topics are in constant demand at all hours of every day.”
One person close to On the Money said the staff, which numbers about half a dozen, were shocked to learn the news when they were told on Wednesday. That person said there was an awareness that money was tight, but that staff believed CBC felt it was important for the network to have a business program.
Another money-saving programming change being made to CBC News Network may be just as consequential as the cancellation of On the Money.
Beginning Friday, June, 29, the channel will no longer always be live during the full broadcast day, moving instead to an hourly cycle from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. of 30-minute live programming followed by a 30-minute taped repeat. It is unclear yet if that approach will last beyond the summer.
The broadcast business news industry in Canada has become more competitive this year, after Bell Media’s specialty TV channel BNN struck a partnership with New York-based Bloomberg Media to launch BNN Bloomberg. The new station produces content both for the rebranded BNN TV channel and for Bell’s radio stations across the country.