CTV closes two local TV stations, says cost-cutting to come at A-Channel stations

CTV Television Inc. announced it will not seek to renew broadcast licenses for two local stations in southern Ontario, CKNX-TV in Wingham and CHWI-TV in Wheatley and Windsor, when they expire at the end of August.

Regional A-Channel manager Don Mumford in Windsor said: “The station has been operating at a deficit for the last 10 years.”

He added that there will definitely be layoffs, but it is uncertain yet which of the station’s 19 employees — 16 full time, three part time— plus 10 more in technical support in London, will be cut.

The Globe and Mail‘s Grant Robertson wrote of the closures:

“The decision, and the possibility of similar moves from rival Global
Television, has prompted fears that small-market, local TV stations are
a dying breed. It also sets the stage for a showdown with Ottawa in the
coming months as CTV and Global prepare to meet with regulators to
discuss the state of the industry, and seek renewals for their other

Paul Sparkes, CTV’s executive vice-president of corporate affairs, said:

“This decision was difficult, but necessary. Unfortunately, we may need to consider similar actions in other local markets.”

Later, a CTV spokesperson told the Canadian Press that it’s A Channel stations are in a “grave” financial situation. According to CP, a memo to CTV employees said its A Channels in Ontario, B.C. and Nova Scotia, are “in a tougher position that require CTV to make cuts to its operating costs.” It wasn’t clear if this will include layoffs.

CTV’s CEO Ivan Fecan said in the memo:

“When we bought the As, they had never made money. We hoped to turn this around and this year achieved a major increase in their ratings. This is not the fault of our hard working and dedicated employees who work at our A stations across the country. It is because the business model for conventional television is now broken.”

CRTC hearings into the current state of conventional television will begin later this year, but Fecan said:

“While we welcome this new, year-long
CRTC process and while we can’t guarantee the survival of the As until
that time, together we will do our best.”