PEI

Maritime Noon chopped to hour-long phone-in show in CBC cuts

Maritime Noon, which runs weekdays on CBC Radio in the Maritimes, is being cut from two hours to one and its current affairs section being dropped as part of major cuts to the CBC.

Sydney, Saint John, Moncton CBC stations facing cuts

Maritime Noon, which runs weekdays on CBC Radio in the Maritimes, is being cut from two hours to one and its current affairs section being dropped as part of major cuts to the CBC.

The one-hour current affairs section of the program will disappear, leaving only a one-hour phone-in portion, CBC staff learned Thursday. The program is produced out of the Halifax station with journalists from around the region. Its staffing will drop from seven full-time employees to two.

The region's smaller stations — Sydney, N.S., Saint John and Moncton, N.B. — are also facing deep cuts, but morning radio shows from those locations will continue. Each of those small stations will lose between three and seven full-time positions. The CBC Prince Edward Island station is losing one position.

Andrew Cochran, managing director of English services in the Maritimes, said with cuts of that magnitude, expectations for programming would necessarily be lowered.

"Quality may suffer," Cochran told staff in a conference call to regional employees.

Cochran said while the cuts to the small stations will hurt, there was initially talk of closing the stations entirely. The decision was made at a high level that they must remain.

"The role and the importance of the small stations has been affirmed through this process. People have said these are fundamental to who we are as the CBC," he said on Thursday.

Keeping some portion of Maritime Noon was also seen as a high priority.

Cochran said the supper-hour television programs will not be impacted by the 31 jobs reductions announced on Thursday.

In all, the Maritimes are expected to absorb 31 of the 800 positions being cut nationally.

Cochran said there are 38 staff members eligible for the voluntary retirement package in the Maritimes, so it is unclear how many people will face layoffs.

Staff will learn about specific layoffs between mid-May and September.

Gerry Whelan, the Atlantic representative for the Canadian Media Guild, the the union that represents most CBC employees, said keeping programs on the air while still laying people off will mean increased workloads for those who keep their jobs.

"This is a cull. When you only have say 20 people in Saint John, New Brunswick, and you're going to reduce that by half, that's a cull," Whelan said.

"They're keeping storefronts and saying good luck."

Saint John, Moncton, Sydney face cuts

Operations in New Brunswick's two largest cities are getting the deepest cuts in the province.

In Saint John, the largest city, staff is to be cut by three to seven jobs and Moncton will see a reduction of three to six.

After the cuts, there will be eight radio and five television positions remaining in Saint John.

Meanwhile, there will be six radio and two television positions remaining in Moncton.

The CBC station in Sydney is being cut by three to six positions. That will leave the station with 8.5 radio and two television positions.

Although each of the stations are losing staff, they will still be delivering the local Information Morning radio show.

Theresa Blackburn, a journalism instructor at the New Brunswick Community College in Woodstock, said the staff reductions will impact the quality of the morning shows in New Brunswick and that, in turn, could affect how many people are listening.

"Home for a lot of people in the morning is the CBC morning shows. That's where they get all their information," she said.

"And if you're going to say, 'Here, we're going to leave this intact, but we're going to give you less people to run it,' it doesn't make sense."

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