Cuts to come after CBC approves budget

Cutbacks are on the way at CBC after the public broadcaster’s board of directors approved a yearly budget that requires some big decisions.

CBC/Radio-Canada president Hubert Lacroix told a Toronto audience recently that the broadcaster faces a budgetary shortfall of between $115 million and $145 due to shrinking ad revenues and higher costs.

The CBC receives $1.1 billion in annual funding from the federal government, and in addition, has received a further $60 million each year for the last seven years. However, that $60 million is uncertain this year and if it doesn’t come through the shortfall could top $200 million.

The economic challenges at the CBC have prompted debate on the future of the broadcaster and how it should handle the crisis.

Federal Heritage Minister James Moore has criticized the CBC for cancelling Canadian content and adding U.S. programs such as “Jeopardy” and “Wheel of Fortune.”

Moore has turned town requests from the CBC for any advances on its regular funding. He told The Globe and Mail:

“They do have some moves that they can make in order to mitigate the short-term economic pinch that they find themselves in, and I think they can do it in a way that does not break in any way the social contract they have with Canadians.”

The minister also denied telling Sun Media that he expected 600 to 1,200 job losses at the CBC, noting that he was referring to previous news reports that quoted insiders who feared layoffs.

A CBC spokesperson told the Globe that it will not air commercials on the radio, but other cutbacks could include asset sales, job losses and the merging of local stations.

CBC said employees will be informed of any cuts at the end of the March.