Fecan addresses CTV troops

Concerns loom over the financial health of the broadcaster's major advertisers in the auto and real estate categories.

CTV employees face uncertainty while the TV network decides which jobs may possibly go as part of a cost-cutting drive triggered by a deepening economic downturn.

According to sources, no specifics on job loss numbers were given when CTVglobemedia CEO Ivan Fecan hosted a town hall meeting this week. Fecan instead reiterated the message contained in an internal memo released to staff on Tuesday: CTV needs to cut operating expenses and trim staff to deal with a revenue shortfall.

Of particular concern to CTV is the number of major advertising clients in the auto and real estate categories that face bankruptcy. Other Canadian TV networks have similarly moved to cut costs. The axe fell last week on 560 positions at Canwest Global Communications as it fights off mounting debt costs and a deepening advertising slump.

Peter Murdoch, VP of media at the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, said he took some heart from CTV not yet putting a number on possible job cuts. ‘We hope CTV, unlike Canwest, would not start to erode its core business, which is, to a large degree, local programming and local news,’ he argued. ‘They can continue to fulfill their obligations to their audiences and probably build an audience, rather than slash and slice like Canwest.’

On Wednesday Corus Entertainment said it had no announcements to make after it issued its own internal memo to staff that pointed to new cost-cutting measures, including a reduction in discretionary spending.

‘We are all aware of the challenges facing us in this unprecedented weak economy,’ the all-staff communication said. ‘We are confident that Corus Entertainment has the financial strength to manage through this difficult period. We must, however, be prudent with every single expenditure.’

Unlike CTV and Canwest Global, which are exposed to conventional TV and its dependence on advertising revenue, Corus’ stable of specialty channels and the pay TV network Movie Central can ease the impact of the industry downturn with continuing subscriber fee revenues.