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In-house TV production suffers another blow at CBC

The Canadian Media Guild is disappointed in the decision by CBC management to cancel the award-winning, innovative late-night programme ZeD TV at the end of this season. The programme, which also had a strong internet presence, piqued the interest of broadcasters around the world. Six jobs will be lost as a result of the cancellation and no replacement show has been announced.

“This is another blow to the concept of public television,” says Lise Lareau, national president of the CMG. “In its quest for high ratings and commercial success, CBC management is abandoning the things that make public television special, like its ability to take risks, chart new courses for TV and other media, and reach audiences who are not well served on the rest of the 500-channel dial.”

CBC management is diverting as much money as it can from its inside operations to buy more “high-impact” programming from private producers. The cancellation of ZeD TV follows the announcement that CBC’s television design department would be closed this summer after 53 years of quality service to the industry. It also comes a year after CBC outsourced the English-language communications function to a private company on the pretext of using any savings to buy more outside programming.

CBC TV vice president Richard Stursberg described his network strategy in the recent issue of Playback: “While CBC is a Crown corporation and therefore not operating for profit, our programming still must reach Canadians in large numbers to be viable creatively and financially. It makes no sense for us to commit hundreds of thousands of dollars in licence fees and promotional expenditures on programs that are not appealing to significant numbers of Canadians.”

The Canadian Media Guild is deeply concerned about the commercial direction that the English TV network is taking. “If CBC TV looks ever more like the privates, how can it be defended as something of public value that is worthy of government support? This is a dangerous strategy that doesn’t serve the long-term interests of public broadcasting or the Canadian people,” Lareau says.

The Guild is proceeding with a grievance about the employment status of ZeD employees and is meeting with the employees affected by the show’s cancellation to ensure that their rights under the collective agreement are respected.

For more information, get in touch with the Guild (guild@interlog.com) at 416-591-5333 or 1-800-465-4149.

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