The CBC will announce additional layoffs and cuts to programming this week, an advocacy group warns.
Ian Morrison, the spokesperson for Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, an independent watchdog group, said a shortfall in advertising revenue will result in cuts to jobs and programming on both the French- and English-language sides of the Canadian broadcaster.
“This is going to damage everything that people see and hear,” said Morrison, citing personal sources.
CBC President Hubert Lacroix is scheduled to announce details of the public broadcaster’s finances at a town hall meeting with employees on Thursday.
“The focus of that meeting will be about financial pressures CBC-Radio Canada is facing, and how we’re going to move forward,” said CBC spokesperson Chuck Thompson. “Beyond that though, I cannot comment any more.”
CBC has already trimmed a number of television shows from the fall lineup: dramas Arctic Air and Cracked, cooking shows Best Recipes Ever and In the Kitchen with Stefano Faita, and comedy program The Ron James Show.
On Friday, the broadcaster announced it would be renewing much of its television lineup for 2014-15, including Murdoch Mysteries, Dragons’ Den and Heartland.
Morrison said he did not know which particular shows may be affected by the upcoming cuts and layoffs.
The uncertainty comes in the aftermath of the loss of Hockey Night in Canada, CBC’s flagship Saturday night sports program, which was poached by Rogers Communications Inc. in a $5.2-billion, 12-year deal with the NHL in November.
While hockey games will continue to air on CBC for the next four years, Rogers has editorial control and gets the money from the commercials.
The shakeup cost CBC one of its highest profile television personalities. George Stroumboulopoulos will become the new face of Hockey Night, which brings an end to his talk show George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight, now in its 10th season on CBC.
Even before losing the NHL broadcast rights, CBC was coming to terms with a smaller operating budget after the 2012 federal budget cut $115 million in funding to the public broadcaster over three years.
This past January, Lacroix told CBC and Radio-Canada employees they faced “challenging times” ahead, Thompson said.
The Canadian Media Guild, the union which represents many CBC journalists and support staff, is bracing for bad news on Thursday.
“We don’t know yet what the announcement is, and we don’t know how our members will be affected,” said Jeanne d’Arc Umurungi, a spokesperson for the union.