Rogers cuts back

At least 100 jobs are cut due to declining ad spend, including Citytv, magazine and Blue Jays staffers.

It was a Black Tuesday at Rogers Communications as a round of job cuts, in response to a possible recession, followed news of the death of founder and controlling shareholder Ted Rogers.

The Toronto-based media group did not put a figure on the job cuts announced to employees on Tuesday, but a company spokesman confirmed a ‘number of position eliminations’ were made across the group.

Canada’s largest cable and wireless phone operator has fared well against its industry peers, having just completed a debt refinancing in August and posted a third quarter profit of $495 million in October.

But the Rogers spokesman said the media group felt a need to trim staff and costs to weather a worsening economy: ‘What started out as a US financial crisis has morphed into an much larger unfortunate situation. Advertising spending has declined sharply. So we’re putting in cost-control measures.’

It’s understood that as many as 100 jobs have been cut from a total workforce of around 29,000 employees. That comes in addition to recent cost-control measures like restrictions on travel and discretionary spending. In all, eight jobs were lost at the Citytv station in Toronto, and another five jobs are to go at Rogers-owned magazines in both editorial and back-office positions.

‘It’s important that all of the companies under the Rogers Media umbrella react quickly to this new reality in order to maintain our financial position, and to maintain our leading position in the industry by leveraging our areas of strength,’ Brian Segal, president and CEO of Rogers Publishing, said in an internal memo to employees. Rogers Publishing will hold meetings for staff in Toronto and Montreal today to further explain the cost-cutting moves.

Another 20 jobs are to go at the Toronto Blue Jays major league baseball franchise, mostly from the club’s sales staff. Those layoffs coincided with news that former Blue Jays president Paul Godfrey is bound for the National Post newspaper to become its new president and CEO on Jan. 1.

The Rogers Communications spokesman offered no guarantees against further job cuts at the Canadian media group, but added ‘we feel that today’s changes leave us very positioned for 2009.’

In the wake of Ted Rogers’ passing, Rogers Communications has established a special committee to find his successor.

Other Canadian broadcasters in recent weeks have made similar cost-cutting moves, with CTV last week eliminating 105 jobs and before that Canwest Global Communications laying off 560 broadcast and publishing employees.

From Playback Daily