Ax hovers over CTV

Job cuts now loom for CTV as the economy continues to take its toll on the Canadian media industry.

Job cuts now loom for CTV as the economy continues to take its toll on the Canadian media industry.

Network employees on Tuesday received an internal memo in which CTVglobemedia CEO Ivan Fecan said measures will be taken to cut costs and trim staffs.

CTV has scheduled an all-staff meeting for Wednesday afternoon to explain how it will deal with industry woes.

Coming on the heels of job cuts at rival Canwest Global Communications unveiled last Friday, Fecan told CTV employees on Tuesday that the network has introduced a freeze on hiring and travel and entertainment spending, to be followed by job cuts.

‘We have also asked each department head to identify efficiencies — unfortunately, this will result in some layoffs,’ Fecan continued.

‘There is never an easy or good time to take these kinds of measures. But we have to keep it real,’ he added, referring to hard times ahead for the Canadian broadcast industry.

Fecan gave little away on where the ax will fall at CTV, and instead said much will depend on performance.

‘Where there is strong revenue or competitive reasons, we may choose to add, not cut, resources,’ he told employees.

But elsewhere, new projects and ‘unspent capital plans’ faced being revised, delayed or halted.

The sign of fewer projects by CTV, and by other networks braced for a long recession, is likely to punish indie producers who depend on broadcasters for commissions.

Fecan faulted a sharp advertising downturn and an approaching recession for the drastic corporate moves to follow.

‘The worldwide financial situation is causing sharp decreases in advertising spending and even the potential bankruptcy of some of our single biggest customers,’ he said in likely reference to key advertisers like car companies and financial companies that are contending with sharp drops in consumer spending.

‘This is one of the biggest challenges we’ve ever faced,’ the internal memo continued.

In an echo of the job-cut announcement at Canwest, CTV took aim at the CRTC for turning down its request for subscriber fees from cable and satellite TV operators.

‘All of this is in addition to the ongoing structural issues affecting conventional television, which are compounded by the recent CRTC decision,’ Fecan argued.

All of which promises a somber town hall meeting on Wednesday. Employees at CTV’s downtown Toronto headquarters will gather to hear Fecan field questions from the eTalk newsroom.

The rest of the network will view the proceedings via closed-circuit TV, and have a chance to pose questions directly or via e-mail.

Fecan is not expected to quantify possible job cuts at CTV on Wednesday, but instead to reassure jittery employees.

Unlike Canwest Global, which is publicly traded, CTV is a private company shielded from having to make public disclosures about restructuring charges, layoffs, or losses.

CTVgm is, however, responsible to its boardroom, filled by main shareholders Woodbridge, the investment vehicle for the Thomson family, phone giant BCE, Torstar and Teachers’ Private Capital, the private investment arm of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.

From Playback Daily