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Canada's public broadcaster to cut 650 jobs, sell ads

Conservatives reducing Canadian Broadcasting Corporation budget by $115 million over 3 years.

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Pedestrians walk past the CBC building in Toronto. CBC is cutting 650 jobs and reducing original programming in an effort to absorb government budget reductions. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

Canada’s public broadcaster is cutting 650 jobs, selling more advertising and eliminating original content – including sports and documentaries – to absorb government budget cuts, The Toronto Star reported today.

In its federal budget announced last week, the ruling Conservatives announced they would reduce the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (NPR north to some) budget by $115 million over three years.

“When we add up the reduction to our appropriation, unavoidable cost increases, and the investments that CBC/Radio-Canada needs to make to ensure its continued transformation into a modern public broadcaster, we actually face financial pressures amounting to $200 million over the next three years,” CEO Hubert T. Lacroix said in a release.

To cover the shortfall, the national broadcaster will sell advertising on its CBC Radio 2 and Espace music channels. It will also abandon its analog broadcasting infrastructure, reduce real estate, close bureaus in Russia and Brazil and scale back on original, Canadian TV programming.

CBC Radio 1 is to remain commercial free. 

“We will be making less Canadian content,” English-language programming executive Kirstine Stewart told CBC News. “It will be more the traditional prime-time schedule that we have in place on CBC Television.”

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CBC is to eliminate about 475 jobs this fiscal year, Postmedia News said.

The Conservative government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper is trying to eliminate a $22-billion deficit.

As part of more than $5 billion in reduced federal spending, the Tories are cutting $27.8 million from CBC this year.

The broadcaster will also lose a $60-million payment for original programming.

“I will let Canadians decide for themselves if this is a fair cut,” Lacroix said, according to Postmedia.

CBC spent nearly $760 million on TV programming last year, according to government figures, The Canadian Press said.

In 2009, about 800 employees lost their jobs.

“Our folks are, and have been for years now, stretched," union representative Marc-Philippe Laurin said, according to CP. "They work above and beyond, they do everything they can; they've been asked to do more and more, year after year after year. I can tell you there is no room for that anymore."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/canada/120404/canadas-public-broadcaster-cut-650-jobs-sell-ads