MuchMusic left with skeleton staff after job cuts, source says
by Claire Brownell, Financial Post, July 12, 2014 7:30 AM ET
Save a skeleton staff that will continue to produce the Much and M3 countdowns, Much will accelerate a tactic it had increasingly come to rely on over the last decade: packing its schedule with syndicated content instead of original programming, a source told the Financial Post.
As a MuchMusic VJ in the channel’s 1980s heyday, Terry David Mulligan remembers sneaking a film crew into the very temple of the American music industry — the Grammy Awards.
His boldness paid off with a shot of a moment that went down in music history — Metallica storming out in a hail of curses after losing to Jethro Tull for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance. And Mr. Mulligan did it with what could charitably be called a small fib: telling the security guard he was part of the film crew there to accompany Olivia Newton John.
“He said, ‘That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard,’” Mr. Mulligan recalls. “And we went in. And we did 55 interviews that day.”
That was the sort of gonzo-video style that put MuchMusic on the bleeding edge of hip in the early years after its 1984 debut, making it the kind of cultural leader and tastemaker that new media groups like VICE and Gawker, occupy today. Top musicians and their fans made pilgrimages to Much’s downtown Toronto studio space, designed to be a gathering spot, as well as a broadcasting centre.
That time has all but come to an end. This past Wednesday at 10 a.m., Catherine MacLeod, senior vice president for specialty channels for Much’s owner Bell Media, called a meeting with production teams from Much, MTV Canada, M3 (formerly known as MuchMoreMusic) and the entertainment channel E!, and broke some stunning news, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Eight shows on those channels are ceasing production, which means the loss of 91 jobs. It also means the virtual end of Canada’s music-video-channel era. Save a skeleton staff that will continue to produce the Much and M3 countdowns, Much will accelerate a tactic it had increasingly come to rely on over the last decade: packing its schedule with syndicated content — shows like South Park and Tosh.O — instead of original programming, the source said.
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