Faced with shrinking advertising revenues and federal financing, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Wednesday announced the biggest cutbacks in its history, eliminating 1,100 jobs and closing or reducing service at 10 of its 17 regional television stations.
The cutbacks will save the organization $108 million (Canadian) this year, almost 10 percent of its $1.15 billion budget. Last year, when the CBC reported a $23 million deficit, 500 jobs were cut from its staff of more than 10,700.
The CBC operates local, regional and national television and AM/FM radio services in English and French across Canada; television broadcasts of Parliament; Newsworld, a 24-hour television news station; Radio-Canada International, the multilingual short-wave radio service, and locally produced programs in several languages for native peoples in the North.
"These decisions have given me many sleepless nights," Gerard Veilleux, CBC president, told employees via closed-circuit television.
The cuts, some effective immediately, others by April 1, mean most provinces will lose their local news coverage in favor of one regional broadcast. In Toronto, for example, CBLT-TV (Channel 5) will lose its local programming capabilities in English and French (CBLFT), but will carry the national and Ontario provincial news and other programs as part of its continuing television operation.
CBC local services in Goose Bay, Newfoundland, and Matane, Quebec, also will be closed. Windsor, Ont.; Calgary, Alberta; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Sidney, Nova Scotia; Corner Brook, Newfoundland; and Sept. Iles and Rimouski, Quebec, will be cut back to bureaus feeding a regional station.
Citing fiscal restraint, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney's government has ordered the CBC to cut $140 million over three years.
A CBC spokesman said the $108 million shortfall for 1991-92 results from five factors: federal funding cuts of $32 million, $18 million loss from inflation, $30 million less in advertising revenue than projected, $12 million from restoration of the CBC pension fund and $16 million in assorted new costs, including worker benefits and tax increases.