Big changes are coming at TVOntario, Ontario's public broadcaster, including cancellation of its flagship current affairs show Studio 2.
Education Minister Sandra Pupatello announced new money on Thursday for the network, which broadcasts in English and French.
It will get an additional $7.5 million in operating funding for each ofthe next two years and $10 million in capital costs.
That money will help upgrade the broadcaster from analogue to digital technology and restructure its relationship with French broadcaster TFO.
Later in the day, staff at the network heard from chief executive Lisa de Wilde about some changes in programming, including the cancellation of Studio 2.
The popular show, hosted by Steve Paikin and Paula Todd, is a mix of interviews and features based on the daily news. The final Studio2 airs Friday.
Studio2 was forum for opponents
Ontario Conservative Leader John Tory was critical of the cancellation.The Liberals didn't like the forum the show provided to its opponents, he told CBC Radio.
"While some of the programming they're proposing to do may well be welcome, I'm sure the government felt discomfort from time to time, perhaps as often as every night, with the outspoken commentary and the panel discussions they had on TVOntario, and so it's too bad that that program is disappearing," Tory said.
It will be replaced by another program, The Agenda with Steve Paikin, starting next fall.
"Itâs a little difficult to feel shortchanged today,â Paikin said after the announcement.
"The show had a great run — it lasted longer than (CBC news show) The Journal. So Iâm proud of everything that we all accomplished doing Studio 2, but weâve got a new challenge ahead of us now and weâre going to do the best damn job we can on it."
TVO is adding 13 hours of children's programming a week, but cancellingteen talk show Vox and daily lifestyle program, More to Life.
Long-running Saturday Night at the Movies, which had been rumoured to be on the cutting block, will remain in the schedule.
Employees also were told there would be no job losses for the next two years.
Return to educational programming
The McGuinty government wants TVOntario to return to its roots as an education channel for children and adult learners.
"We are overhauling it to align with our educational priorities," Pupatello said.
The French network, TFO, will operate independently.
"That network has been much more than educational— it's provided the news and enhanced the culture of that community, too," she said.
And the network will move from analogue to digital formats, and explore new online and streaming technologies. One of the investments it's expected to make is in digital cameras and technology to replace aging equipment.
The revamp follows a strategic review of the broadcaster done last fall at the request of the Ontario government.
The review asked the TVO board to ensure the government is getting full value for its $58.8 million funding of TVOntario, and that its activities align with theprovince's education priorities.