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CBC/Radio-Canada: the future means doing less with less

Guild members are coming to grips today with choices CBC management has made about their shows and their workplaces. And it’s not easy.

“There’s a combination of fear and uncertainty that hangs in the air, and it’s really hard on morale,” says CBC/Radio-Canada branch president Marc-Philippe Laurin. “This is a very difficult time for everyone.”

All media lines and all programs are affected. Proportionately, cuts in network programming are deeper than those in regional shows; on the other hand, smaller stations have operated on a shoestring for years, so any new cuts will have a serious impact.

The best summary of the English-service cuts is, not surprisingly, found on the CBC News website at www.cbc.ca/arts/media/story/2009/03/26/cbc-layoffs.html . Here’s an excerpt:
Changes on Radio One include:

Cancellations of The Inside Track, Outfront and The Point.

Reduction of regional noon-hour programs to one hour.

Reductions in drama.

Changes on Radio 2 include:

Cancellations of In the Key of Charles and the weekend edition of The Signal.

Reductions in live music production and recordings.

More consolidations with Radio 3.

On CBC-TV, investigative programs such as the fifth estate and Marketplace will have reduced budgets, though it’s not yet known whether that will mean fewer episodes.
Canadians can also expect to see more repeats of many prime-time programs, with shorter seasons ordered for ones including:

The Border.

This Hour Has 22 Minutes.

Being Erica.

Little Mosque on the Prairie.

The CBC will also reduce spending on new children’s programming and cancel the Living programs produced in each region.
In CBC Sports, there will be reductions or cutbacks in coverage of:

International figure skating.

CONCACAF Champions League soccer.

World aquatics.

World athletics.


The CBC will also drop its Blue Jays baseball telecasts.

(Note: the cuts mentioned in our Thursday communique referred only to the Corp’s French-language services. A number of readers – and some outside media outlets – read them as being English services cuts. We apologize for any confusion, and we’ve clarified the version on our website.)
The stakes are high – not just for CBC employees, but also for the Canadian public. Although the Corp has been saying that no stations would be closed, for large numbers of Canadians the result will be the same. People in the Windsor region are losing all their local French-language programming, and English-speaking residents of northern Saskatchewan and Manitoba will no longer see or hear their stories reflected on their national public broadcaster, as programming out of La Ronge and Thompson is eliminated.

As for how the actual process of staff reductions will play out, please be reminded that no redundancy or layoff notices have been issued, and none will be issued until May at the earliest. The Corporation is still waiting for federal approval of the VRIP: voluntary retirement incentive program, and the joint employment committees are just starting to do their work.

We have heard from many members who have written or called in with suggestions of measures that could be taken. We’re listening to any and all suggestions of gestures or sacrifices that might help alleviate the pain, and we’re prepared to discuss some of them with CBC management – with the understanding that if we are able to help generate some meaningful savings, that some of the cuts will be cancelled, delayed or reversed.

Guild leaders are now working to channel the concerns of Canadians and Guild members to fight these cuts in the most appropriate way. “We have been working with labour and arts communities to focus Canadians on the problems facing the CBC,” says CMG national president Lise Lareau.

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