After Getting $33 Million Windfall from Google, CBC Slashes 10% of its Workforce

The CBC has gotten an early Christmas present from Google, but it’s employees are being gifted with lumps of coal.

Last week, we reported on the CBC seemingly gearing up to net a whopping $33 million from the up to $100 million Google government agreement. The result left the CBC being one of the only Online News Act backers to be happy about the outcome.

While there is open questions about whether the government would actually allow that Google money to just flow directly into the bank accounts of the CBC, it seems that this is where the Christmas gift ends with the CBC. Reports have surfaced that its employees are getting lumps of coal in the form of pink slips – all right before Christmas of course. So, in the midst of preparing for the holiday season, doing Christmas shopping, shovelling snow, and other normal activities for the holiday season, many CBC employees will also be filling out resumes as they look for work elsewhere. Ironically, from the CBC:

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Radio-Canada announced Monday that it plans to cut about 10 per cent of its workforce and axe some programming to cope with a potential $125 million budget shortfall.

In a news release, the public broadcaster said it plans on cutting 600 union and non-union positions across the entire organization. The corporation said about 200 vacant positions will be eliminated on top of that.

CBC and Radio-Canada, the French-language arm, will each be cutting in the range of 250 jobs, while the rest of the cuts will come from the technology and infrastructure department and other corporate divisions, said spokesperson Leon Mar.

He said some of the cuts will begin immediately but most will take effect over the coming year.

When I saw this, I couldn’t help but think of multiple CBC employees actively trying to push the Online News Act as the thing that they need to make happen in order to save their jobs. Now, with this news coming down, I wonder if some employees are realizing that they got suckered into joining the wrong side of that debate.

Of course, if you are clutching your pearls and wondering if this will have an impact on the poor starving CEO, rest assured, those funds are likely not getting touched. From CTV:

OTTAWA – Canada’s public broadcaster is feeling the heat after its president declined to rule out the possibility of holiday bonuses this year, hours after announcing massive layoffs.

Catherine Tait appeared Monday on the CBC News flagship show, “The National,” and was asked whether executives would be getting rewarded this year despite the cuts.

“I’m going to presume no bonuses this year,” said host Adrienne Arsenault. “Can we establish that’s not happening this year?”

Tait responded: “It’s too early to say where we are for this year. We’ll be looking at that, like we do all our line items in the coming months.”

Uh, yeah, sure Tait. We know you are getting your massive stacks of cash out of all of this. That’s never been a question.

Of course, more broadly speaking, this is a repeat of what happened in Australia. When Australia was debating their own link tax law, one of the arguments for this is that if the link tax doesn’t go through, then there will be massive layoffs and news organizations would be financially ruined. Just as critics said would happen, Rupert Murdoch’s corporate empire scored a lions share of the money afterwards. Afterwards, News Corp slashed 20% of its workforce, proving that the Australian News Bargaining Code being about saving jobs was never actually true.

Now, here we are in Canada, witnessing the exact same thing – albeit with a much more compressed timeline. The CBC actively lobbied for the Online News Act, arguing, among other things, that this was about preserving jobs and saving the news sector. Now that it is seemingly set to make off with $33 million it pilfered from Google, it is laying off 10% of it’s workforce anyway, proving again that this was definitely not about saving journalism jobs. Clearly, this was all just a bogus cover in the end.

This pattern of receiving a windfall, then slashing jobs has officially becoming a pattern in the link tax debates. If opponents to these laws want a strong argument against the link tax, this is certainly a really big one. There is no hiring spree that will happen as a result of these laws. If anything, the exact opposite tends to happen where people get laid off on a massive scale. This latest development pretty much proves that point.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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