According to my source that sent me this unsent internal CBC memo, this was intended to hit the inboxes of CBC employees tomorrow:
I wanted to give you an update on where things stand with respect to our financial challenges, as the SET just wrapped up a couple of days of budget planning. Not an easy task.
Our focus in this budget planning has been to do everything we can to minimize the effect of these tough times on our services, programs and our people. The decisions we will take must also be anchored in a clear vision of what we want and need to become as a 21st century public broadcaster. We must ensure we’re positioned to become a content company, the home of Canadian programming. We must be the leader in reaching Canadians on new platforms. And, we must be deeply rooted in the regions. Ultimately, what we must do to manage our way through these financial straights has to respect these priorities and sustain our ability to serve Canadians well. All of that, with the worst economic crisis in years as a backdrop.
Our industry is certainly caught up in the crisis with bad news every week – this week it was Transcontinental announcing 1,500 layoffs. As you know, we are now projecting a shortfall in advertising revenue that will be in the $55-65 million dollar range for the year ending March 31, 2009 (a drop of 17 percent from our budgeted amount, a 7 percent drop from last year), but we nonetheless still think that CBC/Radio-Canada will break-even for the current year. To do that, in addition to the freezes and cost-cutting measures we put in place in November, we have used all our reserves as well as the entire surplus carried forward from last year.
The more pressing issue is our budget for 2009-2010. The combination of a severe slump in our commercial revenues, coupled with rising costs of production is a menacing test that will demand some tough choices on our part. Tough choices that will affect, in one way or another, jobs, services and programs in our Corporation. We are still working away at finalizing plans. Nothing has yet been determined. My conversations with government are still continuing to try to obtain some financial flexibility to help our Corporation deal with these budgetary pressures, trying to find a way to spread the impact of this crunch over more than one year.
I can’t and will not predict the outcome of these discussions. Other avenues are being analysed at the same time including the sale of some of our assets to balance this budget.
You deserve to know that our situation is extremely difficult.
Let me tell you that I, and every member of your Senior Executive Team, remain entirely focused on these issues and on minimizing the effects on our Corporation, its people and its programs. But there will be consequences, even with the requested financial flexibilities. Our consolidated budgets and business plans will be reviewed one final time by the Senior Executive Team next week and will then be submitted to the Board in mid-March. You can therefore expect a more detailed picture toward the end of March. I’ll update you periodically as things evolve between now and then.
In the meantime, let’s keep CBC/Radio-Canada on course. I know that this uncertainty is not the best of times. Rest assured that I am working with SET to bring clarity to all this.
Of course, as noted, this occurs within the context of the global economic crisis. Despite this, CBC received $1.1 Billion from the taxpayer last year. According to the CRTC, CBC employs 10,200 people paying out $771,074,000 in salaries and benefits. This means that the average payout per employee at the CBC is $75,595.
Comparatively, the total numbers of employees at private broadcasters in this country is 7,402 with total salaries and benefits of $576,900,000. The average payout per employee is $77,938.
Is the CBC trimming the fat, or do they need some central planning from the government to help them do so? Months ago, it was reported that the executive VP for French-services expensed over $80,000 for travel, meals, and theatre tickets.
If any of this is making you sick, the next fact won’t make you feel any better. The CBC lost $15 million in 2006-2007 paying for 68,000 sick days for its employees.
In any self-respecting story about taxpayer abuse, there’s a no-expense-spared trip to Paris. The CBC doesn’t disappoint as that same executive VP that billed $80,000 in expenses also bought a $6,000 plane ticket to the French capital and billed over $2,000 in hotel, meal and cab expenses. Nice work if you can get it.
This lagresse is offensive when private news outlets such as Canwest and CTVGlobemedia are slashing jobs, dropping bureaus and cutting expenses. For example, CTV opted out of the Parliamentary Press Gallery dinner this year while Canwest has cut 5% of their workforce and even asked reporters and staffers to voluntarily return their cellphones because the company can’t afford to equip everyone that needs one. Jobs have also been cut at the Globe and Mail. The news business is hurting across Canada and CBC asks the government for “financial flexibility”.