North

CBC North programs safe from cutbacks, but layoffs coming

Local CBC Radio and TV shows in Canada's North have been spared in the nationwide cutbacks announced Thursday, but CBC North can expect some staff layoffs and belt-tightening during financially trying times at the public broadcaster.

Local CBC Radio and TV shows in Canada's North have been spared in the nationwide cutbacks announced Thursday, but CBC North can expect some staff layoffs and belt-tightening during financially trying times at the public broadcaster.

Details of the cutbacks to CBC English Services, including radio and television, were outlined to employees across the country on Thursday afternoon.

Program changes include the cancellation of five CBC Radio network programs and reductions to regional noon-hour programs in some cities.

However, CBC North's local radio and TV programming is not affected to date, regional director John Agnew said.

"We have no intention of reducing the amount of programming we do," Agnew told CBC News in Yellowknife Thursday.

"All the shows that we currently produce, both on radio and television, and right across the North, we're going to maintain all those programs. ... We're going to have a challenge with how to do this with reduced staff, and we're going to have to figure it out."

CBC North broadcasts in English and a number of northern aboriginal languages from stations in Yellowknife, Iqaluit and Whitehorse, with bureaus located in Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay, Nunavut; Inuvik, N.W.T.; Kuujjuaq and Montreal, Que. It also has a summer bureau in Dawson City, Yukon.

No specific number of layoffs yet

Originally known as the CBC Northern Service, CBC North has been celebrating its 50th anniversary over the past year.

The CBC cutbacks came one day after CBC president and chief executive Hubert Lacroix announced the broadcaster would have to cut a total 800 full-time positions at CBC/Radio-Canada, including 393 positions in English Services, and sell about $125 million in assets.

"At this point, we don't know exactly how many people are going to be laid off because there's a whole process of voluntary retirement and … work force adjustment, and all that means we don't have a specific figure," Agnew said.

"I think there's little doubt there are going to be layoffs at CBC North."

The layoffs are likely to take place in late spring and run through the summer.

The staff that remains will have to maintain current programming with fewer resources and smaller budgets.

"I would like to say that I hope there is no apparent impact to viewers and listeners," Agnew said. "I can't help but think that when we reduce staff, given the staffing levels we already have, that something's got to give.

"I don't know what that's going to be at this point but, yeah, it's a concern."

Agnew added that having fewer resources might mean less on-location shows and more music on some shows.

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