CBC eliminates 130 positions

EVP Barb Williams says COVID-19 "doesn't change" that the pubcaster was already facing a shortfall due to advertising declines.

Amidst a challenging year for the media landscape, CBC is the latest to make a series of job cuts.

The pubcaster confirmed to MiC that approximately 130 positions will be eliminated. However, Chuck Thompson, head of public affairs for CBC, says that of the positions affected by what the CBC is calling a “reset,” not all will result in direct job losses.

“We were able to deal with more than half of them through attrition and vacancies,” Thompson wrote in an email.

According to the Canadian Media Guild, 40 of the positions affected were CMG members. The majority of those positions were from the Toronto Broadcasting Centre and Halifax. It also stated that besides the retirements and vacant jobs that haven’t and won’t be filled, other sectors of the company beyond editorial and production have been affected, including supervisory staff.

“The Canadian Media Guild is deeply disturbed by the continuing trend to reduce the size of CBC/Radio-Canada at a time when it ought to be growing,” wrote CBC branch president Kim Trynacity. “This is the latest example of a steady slow drip of downsizing of Canada’s public broadcaster.” However, the union’s statement also cast responsibility on the federal government, which funds the CBC. “It is the responsibility of parliamentarians to properly fund the work of Canada’s public broadcaster.”

According to a memo from EVP of English services Barb Williams, obtained by MiC sister publication Playback, the cuts are not directly related to COVID-19, but the conditions that led to them were exacerbated by the pandemic.

“Every year, our costs go up as revenue generation in traditional media goes in the other direction and, not surprisingly, we have seen that even more acutely this fiscal with the global pandemic,” Williams wrote. “That’s exactly why a COVID-19 contingency budget was created. But that doesn’t change what our reality was before, nor beyond the pandemic… Our reality is, every fiscal we (CBC/Radio-Canada) start in a deficit position of about $21 million (a shortfall which is due to declines in advertising and subscription revenues linked to our traditional television business and to inflation on a portion of our parliamentary allocation).”