Hiring freeze, layoffs to come at CTV: memo

Layoffs, a hiring freeze and revisions or delays of new projects are in the cards at Canadian broadcaster CTV, according to a memo staff received Tuesday.

Layoffs, a hiring freeze and revisions or delays of new projects are in the cards at Canadian broadcaster CTV, according to a memo staff received Tuesday.

In the note, CTV CEO Ivan Fecan blamed both the global financial downturn and "the ongoing structural issues affecting conventional television" for the new operational plan.

Staff are slated to meet at a town hall with Fecan in Toronto on Wednesday to hear further details.

In the meantime, Fecan's message outlined several cost-cutting measures that were put into place Tuesday.

"Across all TV properties, there will be a hiring freeze," as well as a halt on travel and entertainment spending, he wrote.

"New projects, unspent capital plans will be revised, delayed or halted" and management has called on each department to "identify efficiencies — unfortunately, this will result in some layoffs."

However, organizational changes will not be the same across the board, he said.

"Each situation will be judged by its own circumstances … where there is strong revenue or competitive reasons, we may choose to add, not cut, resources."

The news comes a week after media giant Canwest announced it is cutting five per cent of its workforce, including 210 broadcast and 350 publishing jobs.

Canwest president Leonard Asper partially attributed the decision to the current economic climate and the current pressures facing conventional TV operations.

In July, Statistics Canada reported that revenue for conventional television fell by 5.3 per cent, slipping to $1.267 billion in 2007 versus 2006. By comparison, pay television revenue in Canada rose by 13.5 per cent for the same period, hitting $547 million in 2007. 

Both Fecan and Asper also blamed the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission's recent rejection of carriage fees to help traditional broadcasters, such as CTV, Canwest's Global television network and CBC-TV.

CTV Inc. owns and operates 27 conventional television stations across the country and has news bureaus across Canada and internationally, including in Washington, London and Beijing.

Its parent company, CTVglobemedia, also owns the Globe and Mail newspaper, 34 CHUM radio stations across the country, as well as TSN, Much Music, Bravo and more than two dozen other specialty TV channels.