Corus Cuts Again … As On-Air Experience Gives Way to Corporate Ties in Canadian Broadcasting By Harvey Oberfeld



By Harvey Oberfeld

Keeping It Real…

June 25th, 2014 


The bean counters are now in FULL control of broadcasting and media in Canada … and are on a new rampage!

The Puget Sound Radio website has reported more cuts at CKNW,  only weeks after more dwindling ratings …  but ironically, NOT one of those let go is anyone that readers/commenters on THIS blog have said they want gone, when saying what’s wrong with the station.

Terry Bell
Photo: Courtesy of Ted Wendland/BC Radio History

Walking the Corus plank this week at NW are, according to PSR, veteran news anchors Tom Mark and Terry Bell.

Also at Corus’s CFOX, thrown overboard are on-air broadcasters Neil Morrison and Todd Hancock and at Rock 101 sports reporter Stu Walters.

Meanwhile, also this week, Bell Media, which runs CTV, CTV Two, TSN and several specialty channels including the Comedy Network and Much Music,  announced 120 jobs are being cut.

Also cancelled, after seven months on air, is CTV’s show “Kevin Newman Live”.

Funny thing …or actually not so funny … I don’t remember seeing or hearing or reading about any of these latest broadcasting corporate hatchet specialists telling the CRTC they planned to do ANY of this when they applied for their broadcasting licence renewals!

No, no.

When broadcasting executives appear before the CRTC, they talk about IMPROVING Canadian broadcasting, REFLECTING the community, BUILDING on the proud history of achievements … etc. etc.

And the CRTC … I suspect knowing it’s all crap … go along with the program; require some minor changes … and sign the licences.

The CRTC, for years now, has been facilitating private broadcasting’s bean counters’ destruction of quality Canadian broadcasting. They’ve allowed radio and tv newscasts for years to be so drastically slashed that listeners and viewers have been fleeing in even greater numbers.

Perfect for the private broadcasters!

Because that clears the way for the broadcasters to ask the CRTC … next time around … to allow complete elimination of many local shows, especially news and public affairs  … because, they’ll argue, no one is listening or watching anyway.

It’s all a farce.

All the cuts we’ve seen over the past year or more; all the staff sent packing; all the families whose lives have been turned upside down … are not in the least being sacrificed to improve Canadian broadcasting,  or even help stations stay solvent: it’s about MAXIMIZING profits by providing the cheapest possible “local” product in the belief that enough unthinking, uncritical listeners and viewers will still  tune in … so the stations can continue to cash in with big business corporate and government advertising.

And then, make HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS by running American programming during prime time.

THAT’S what private broadcasting is about right now in Canada.

And don’t expect the Canadian Association of Broadcasters to step up and protect the public interest over private exploitation of Canada’s airwaves:

If you take a look at THEIR website …they sure say a lot of the right words: with a Code of Ethics that actually says the first responsibility of Canada’s private broadcasters is ” to the radio listeners and television viewers 0f Canada for the dissemination of information and news”.

That’s great.

And they go on to talk about their responsibility in dealing with human rights, children’s programs, fair coverage of controversial issues.

God bless them.

But then I read their Mission/Statement: “To serve as the eyes and ears of the private broadcasting community, to advocate and lobby on its behalf and to act as a central point of action on matters of joint interest.”


Look at the CAB’s 2014 Executive Council Board…..

It’s LOADED with vice-presidents of Regulatory Affairs, Government Relations, Operations,  Copyright etc. from the BIGGEST media giants …and only one director  (not on the Executive Council) who I personally would describe as an actual broadcaster.

So I’d bet that the CAB’s  Mission Statement will be front and center … not letting that other puffery stand in the way of any the private broadcasters’ “joint interests”…. and certainly not the public’s!

And with current CRTC in charge of regulating them  … the cuts and shallowness of local broadcasting in Canada will no doubt continue to get WORSE.

Harv Oberfeld


  1. He’s got some facts wrong here. Stu Walters was not a Rock101 sports reporter, he was a CKNW sports reporter, the rock 101 staffer let go was Nikki Omen, Willy’s Producer. But he would have known that if he had read the original post on here properly the first time.

  2. Kindly note:
    I am NOT the ‘Ash’ who is quoted as posting the comment that appears on this page.
    I do not post comments on these boards/blogs/forums, etc.
    Thank you.
    John Ashbridge

  3. If “broadcasting” means ‘using the public broadcast spectrum’, consider that some estimates say only 6% of North Americans rely on over-the-air transmission for television. For radio, I don’t know the estimates, but it’s safe to say radio is primarily a service for people commuting in cars. I don’t know anyone under 50 who listens to radio in the home. I do know that radio ratings are sold as a percentage of the total listening audience, and the ‘total’ is getting smaller. (For example the leading stations can have a cume of 8-14% every ratings period, even though fewer and fewer people are listening, because they have 8-14% of those who do listen to radio.)

    Overall, the issue could be whether the CRTC can force some companies to shut down their broadcasting towers (which fewer and fewer people tune into), give up their license to use public broadcast spectrum and go cable-only or stream-only. It does seem that the companies are focusing their efforts on fee-for-carriage, subscription and interactive digital stuff anyway. But — is it in the public interest to remove the free option? Should the 20 FM channels in every city go to non-profit university stations and a state-run news agency? Probably not.

    So if the last remaining role of the CRTC is to insist on a certain number of jobs to go with every privately held broadcasting license, it really is a failing, failing business.

    It’s probably better to leave the CRTC to regulate what use of the public broadcast spectrum is in the public interest (and they already do this), and not complain that the regulator is failing to protect jobs. It is not their role to protect jobs. Maybe private use of public channels to sell advertising really is a failing, failing business. But it’s not a company’s fault for trying it, and downsizing when it doesn’t work.

  4. Harvey Oberfeld was fortunate enough to retire in 2006 – two years before the world turned upside down, economically. Between 2008-2013, media jobs losses nationally reached about 10,000 in Canada, according to preliminary data compiled by the Canadian Media Guild, Folks like Mr. Oberfeld should count his blessings rather than pine for the ‘good old days’ when the world was entirely different.

  5. Ah, Okay, Anonymous. We should just go on sobbing about 2008 even though recovery has been on the up for a few years now…. just what the turds at Corus head office would love us to believe….so we accept their slashing and they pocket the rest.

  6. Interesting part about the CAB. But what else should we expect? It’s funded by the big corporations and run by the big corporations so clearly it will seek the best interest of those corporations.

    It’s to bad there’s not an association that works to protect jobs and fair wages for those in broadcast industry who are not owners nor just viewers or listeners.. And association that would have powers in its number.. Like a guild or a collective group of like minded individuals.. Certainly not a union, it’s been thoroughly beaten into my head that unions don’t work in radio..

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