CBC/Radio-Canada outlines 2009-2010 business plan; announces layoffs
March 25, 2009 – CBC/Radio-Canada’s Senior Executive Team outlined its 2009-2010 business plan for employees today. The strategic blueprint for managing the Corporation through the current financial crisis was approved by the Board of Directors on March 17.
As anticipated, the plan includes major cuts to services, programs and people, measures necessary to bridge a financial shortfall that the Corporation estimates will reach $171 million in 2009-2010. Most notably, the plan calls for a reduction of up to 800 positions (full time equivalents).
The downsizing process will commence right away, with layoffs beginning in the summer months and finishing by the end of September 2009. Between now and then, management will continue working closely with the unions to find creative ways of reducing the number of job cuts required to meet budgetary targets. The first step in that process is the immediate implementation of a targeted Voluntary Retirement Incentive Program, which has been submitted to Government for approval.
“People are the foundation of our success,” said Hubert T. Lacroix, President and CEO. “We’ve done and will continue to do everything we can to minimize the impact of the situation on our staff. But in a company where 60 per cent of the overall budget goes to salaries, it’s simply impossible to bridge a gap of this magnitude without having a major impact on people.”
“These were difficult and painful decisions to make – all the more so given that, in so many ways, this is a golden time for public broadcasting in Canada,” continued Lacroix. “Our audience numbers are at historic highs. We’re producing some of the most compelling content we’ve ever made. We’re leading the way amongst broadcasters online. We’ve entered a new era of cooperation with our unions. We run one of the most efficient public broadcasting organizations in the world. But all that is being threatened now by factors that are out of our control.”
The Corporation developed its plan based on a scenario that was submitted to Government in February 2009 which assumes a $158 million shortfall and $13 million in strategic investments for the coming year. That scenario is based on the Government authorizing the Corporation to raise $125 million through sale of some of its assets. The shortfall can be attributed to a convergence of factors: declining ad revenues, increasing costs related to programming, a base salary funding shortfall, and aging infrastructure. The situation is at risk of being magnified by the continued deterioration of any one of those factors or by hurdles encountered during the asset sale process.
Above and beyond staff reduction, several measures are being put in place to bridge the gap. Those include:
- scaling back of regional radio and television programming;
- decrease in current affairs, drama, music, and special event programming;
- reductions in news;
- repeat presentations throughout the schedule to make up for reduced content production;
- reduction of marketing budgets;
- streamlining of production methods;
- 10-20 per cent cut in executive compensation;
- cutting of discretionary spending (travel, hospitality, etc.);
- slowing of recruitment.Lacroix explained that while the scope of services is being compromised today, the plan was developed to allow the Corporation to keep the core elements of its strategic plan and preserve its ability to serve Canadians: “The choices we’ve made are anchored in a clear vision of what we want and need to become as a 21st century public broadcaster. My job is to keep the CBC/Radio-Canada whole, and to try not to renege on or back away from any whole elements of our mandate. While it’s impossible to let go of as many people as we are without sacrificing services, it’s critical that we stay focussed on becoming a content company, on being a leader in reaching Canadians on new platforms and on being deeply rooted in the regions.”
With that in mind, the plan protects the Corporation’s focus in several key areas:
- the non-commercial nature of radio will be preserved;
- television will continue to consist of 80 per cent or more Canadian content during prime time;
- every effort has been made to protect our regional footprint;
- all major market morning and drive-home radio shows will remain on the air;
- we will maintain our strategic investment in new media and new platforms;
- funding for employee training programs will remain in place.