Losses will hurt, but it
could have been worse
The latest round of cuts at CBC was felt clear across the nation. Now that the dust has settled, I can tell you what kind of impact they had locally.
The hardest blow was dealt to the cast and crew of Living NL. That show was cancelled outright, and the entire contract staff with one exception was let go. The exception was Krista Rudofsky, who is being reassigned to the newsroom (and who finishes maternity leave and returns to Here Now in the next week or so).
The remainder of the Living NL crew including the talented Erin Sulley have been declared redundant, though they will be placed on a back-list for future contract work.
However, the departure of the Living NL crew is not a direct loss to news, explained Denise Wilson, interim Managing Director for CBC NL, in an interview.
Living NL was regional programming and in a regional programming slot, so any regional programming that we get obviously we welcome, she said. And we dont like to lose anything that we do locally. From that perspective its obviously a big loss. As well, the team that worked on that show were fabulous. And those were the ones who were impacted by the cut.
The Living NL people were all net new contract positions, Wilson explained, so their loss will not be felt in other areas of the operation.
However, news and current affairs has seen cuts, in most of the province.
According to Wilson, it was originally announced that anywhere from 12 to 20 positions in NL would be affected by the cuts. Its important to understand, in absorbing these numbers, that position means one full-time person. If two part-time employees are declared redundant, that equals one position.
We already know about seven positions that have been lost through the Living NL cancellation.
That left 13 possible positions that could be affected, Wilson explained. In the end, we handed out five redundancy notices which affected five people, but equated to 3.5 positions. In addition, five positions will be eliminated as a result of the voluntary retirement incentive program. The final result to date: 8.5 positions in the province (in news) have been affected.
Those cuts are spread out roughly evenly across the island, in Corner Brook, Grand Falls-Windsor, Gander and St. Johns. There were no cuts in Labrador. Editorial, technical and administrative staff are affected by the cuts.
Without the voluntary retirements, there would have been more job losses, Wilson said. Suffice to say, with the retirement applications that we had, we were able to save five positions, Wilson said, adding that redundancy notices have been given not layoff notices.
We have a joint management committee that will look at those people affected by the redundancies and will look at every possible circumstance where we can reassign, anything at all to lessen the impact.
While the loss of 8.5 positions will hurt, the situation would have been worse without the voluntary retirements. And the cuts are not as bad as those in larger centres. For example, there are 12 positions eliminated in Halifax, 18 in Calgary, 45 in Vancouver and 155 in Toronto.
Whats bizarre about these cuts is their timing. CBCs supper-hour newscasts across the country are expanding in the fall season to 90 minutes. At a time when they should be adding staff, they are cutting. (The cuts can be explained, in light of revenue losses, but the timing of the decision to go to 90 minutes is questionable.)
No, we wont be adding any new positions, Wilson said, when I asked the question. The positions we have are what we have to work with. With that in mind, we have to be careful. We dont want to reduce our resources so that we cant deliver on the 90 minutes. We have every intention of delivering on that.
I asked if the 90-minute program will be moving up, into the 5:30 slot, or ending later, at 7:30.
That information is not available yet, Wilson said.