CBC plans massive staff cuts as it shifts to mobile-first strategy


An unidentified man is pictured outside the CBC building in downtown Toronto is seen on Thursday June 26 2014. (Chris Young/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

By James Bradshaw and Guy Dixon, The Globe and Mail


The CBC plans to cut up to 20 per cent of its staff by 2020, including a sharp reduction over the next year as it transitions to a leaner, mobile-first strategy aimed at keeping costs under control.

The public broadcaster’s president and CEO, Hubert Lacroix, unveiled the new five-year plan to staff in a tense town hall Thursday afternoon. Dubbed “A space for us all,” the strategy includes cutting 1,000 to 1,500 jobs by 2020, scaling back some local evening newscasts from 90 minutes to 30, and shifting more resources from TV and radio to web broadcasting.

Mr. Lacroix has described the framework as laying out a “culture shift” that would turn the legacy public broadcaster into a more nimble – and less expensive – multi-platform player. The corporation will keep its national and local footprint, electing not to pull out of communities, but will also partner more with outside entities as it scales back in-house productions.

“You’re going to see us lead with mobility and digital,” Mr. Lacroix said in a conference call with reporters. “… The distinction is going to be with the content, with the way that we connect with people in the regions.”

The new emphasis on mobile content means a shift in resources away from some of the CBC’s traditional strengths on television and radio, as more than 50 per cent of its online audience now gets news alerts from mobile devices. It will free up staff to produce more news and programming specifically tailored to smartphones and tablets, including more mobile video.

“And that means not taking a traditional television product and just having it be smaller on a smaller screen. It means actually producing content that is for that mobile device,” Heather Conway, executive vice-president of English services, told reporters.

The plan seeks to redirect resources to content, reducing staff costs and aiming to shed two million square feet of real estate. And Mr. Lacroix said the CBC is reinvesting in prime time to make it “more relevant, more risky, more Canadian.”




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