The Global News investigative program 16x9 has been cancelled as part of job cuts and programming changes designed to slash costs as the news network merges with its new owner, Corus Entertainment Inc.
A vice-president at Global broke the news to stunned 16x9 staff one by one on Tuesday, praising their investigative work and saying financial considerations drove the decision. As many as 10 employees from the program, most of them producers or associate producers, were dismissed, while others will be transferred to a new investigative unit.
Hosted by Carolyn Jarvis, 16x9 recently wrapped up its eighth season and the show was on its regular summer hiatus when staff begin reporting stories for the coming season. Global also won't renew the contract of Liza Fromer, a host on The Morning Show, when it expires at the end of June, according to Globalnews.ca. The company would not discuss other dismissals due to confidentiality concerns.
"We made the difficult decision to not renew 16x9 for the coming season. This was purely a business decision and not a reflection of the great work done by this dedicated team," Rishma Govani, spokesperson for Global News, said in an e-mailed statement.
Corus acquired Global when it bought Shaw Media for $2.65-billion from Shaw Communications Inc. earlier this year. Executives promised investors Corus would extract up to $50-million in savings over two years by integrating the two companies, in an effort to bring down its debt leverage. The process to merge the two companies has led to "significant" job losses, according to a recent interview with Doug Murphy, Corus's chief executive officer.
"Today, we announced some internal reorganizations in a number of areas of the company that are consistent with our commitment to the elimination of duplicate costs, capture operating efficiencies and create the structure that will enable future growth," Ms. Govani said.
Brennan Leffler, an investigative journalist with 16x9, said he is "disheartened" at the show's demise in a post on his Facebook account.
"This is not only a loss to me and my colleagues, but also to journalism in this country," he wrote.
Global is planning to establish a new investigations unit to work with local teams across all platforms. Ms. Jarvis, who is currently on leave, will remain at the network as its chief investigative correspondent.
In an interview at a Corus event earlier this month, Mr. Murphy said the company was on track to exceed its savings targets. "But we have to be very prudent about our programming costs, because that's our largest expense line," he said. The integration is "one of the hard parts of what we're doing here."
In recent weeks, 16x9 has won an award for in-depth and investigative reporting from the Radio Television Digital News Association for an investigation probing whether RCMP officers in Moncton were adequately prepared when a gunman went on a murderous rampage in 2014. The same reporting was also named a finalist for the Canadian Journalism Foundation's Jackman Award for Excellence in Journalism.