TVA Group axes 68 jobs

The company said the decision was "made necessary by numerous unfair practices that have been undermining the television industry for years."

TVA Group is eliminating 68 positions in an effort to reduce its operating expenses.

“The decision was made necessary by numerous unfair practices that have been undermining the television industry for years,” according to a press release issued by the Quebecor Media subsidiary on Wednesday. “It is the result of government inaction and the failure to modernize the system in order to keep businesses based in Quebec and the rest of Canada competitive.”

When asked about which departments would be affected by the layoffs, a spokesperson told MiC sister publication Playback Daily that all of TVA Group’s sectors have been impacted. No further details were provided.

In February, TVA Group let go an unspecified number of employees in its publications division, reducing the staff of Canadian Living, Elle Canada and Style at Home to minimal levels and moving editorial operations for Canadian Living and Style at Home to Montreal. Elle Canada and Elle Quebec were later acquired by KO Média.

In the more recent announcement, TVA Group also called for a number of “urgently needed” actions to support the TV industry. Chief among them was to rebalance subscription fees for specialty channels using quantifiable criteria instead of historical rates.

These layoffs follow Quebecor and Bell’s recent carriage dispute that saw TVA Group’s TVA Sports signal cut for Bell customers. When called before the CRTC in April to explain those actions, Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau reiterated that the royalties paid to specialty channels should not be based on historic rates, but rather on audience ratings and performance. Additionally, when asked what it would mean if the CRTC suspended TVA Sports’ broadcast licence, Péladeau said it could lead to the end of the French-language sports pay TV network.

In its release, TVA Group also called for regulations to be “eased” for both Quebec and Canadian companies to allow them compete on a more equal playing field with foreign players like Google and Facebook; for sales tax and income tax to apply to all companies, including Netflix; for The Copyright Act to be reviewed to make companies like Google News, Facebook and Apple News pay publishers like TVA Nouvelles for news; and for CBC/Radio-Canada’s mandate to be refocused to make its programming complementary to that of private broadcasters. By CBC/Radio-Canada tapping into multiple revenue streams, like TOU.TV Extra and forming distribution partnerships with other broadcasters, TVA Group said the public broadcaster is competing with private broadcasters, while not contributing to the CMF.

In response to the company’s comments about the pubcaster, Radio-Canada’s director of public relations and marketing Marc Pichette said the organization understands TVA Group’s difficult decision, but that it cannot be blamed for problems in the industry experienced by all organizations.

Speaking about CBC/Radio-Canada’s role, he noted that the Canadian broadcasting system is based on the coexistence of both public and private broadcasters to ensure the maximum amount of Canadian content on TV and web for consumers. “In the face of foreign competition and to strengthen Canada’s place in the global market, Radio-Canada’s senior vice-president, Michel Bissonnette, has repeatedly called for more cooperation. It is this desire that inspires many of our digital initiatives, especially on ICI TOU.TV Extra,” he said.

A version of this story appears in Playback.