About 600 jobs will be cut at CBC, confirmed the public broadcaster, suggesting much of those cuts will come from a sports division increasingly unable to compete with specialty broadcasters.
The CBC is facing a budget shortfall of more than $130 million, and if these predictions are accurate would result in a 7% cut to the current workforce.
“That is a big, big number for any organization,” said Ian Morrison, the head of Friends of Canadian Broadcasting
, which is making the forecast.
CBC President Hubert Lacroix announced details of the upcoming budget at a national town hall with employees.
“The focus of that meeting (was) about financial pressures CBC-Radio Canada is facing, and how we’re going to move forward,” said CBC spokesperson Chuck Thompson. He rejected claims that the broadcaster spent too much covering the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, saying it made a “small profit.”
Union leader Carmel Smyth said she anticipates "a significant number of cuts," and laid blame on falling government support and the loss of NHL broadcast rights to Rogers Media last November.
The organization eliminated 650 jobs after the 2012 federal budget reduced its funding by $115 million over three years. The loss of Hockey Night in Canada is estimated to cost CBC $100 million in lost advertising.
The cuts were expected to affect both English and French services, with the sports department especially badly affected.
Unless the CBC can get long-term government support, Smyth said the CBC will continue chasing its tail.
"If it had stable long-term funding it could attract fresh talent and have better programming because it would know that in five years it has the money for X and not in a fight every two years because it's just cuts and cuts and cuts," she said. "You can't have great programming when you can't commit to anything."