As TVA Lays Off One Third of its Workforce, Liberals Still Foolishly Believes Bill C-18 Will Save it

547 people were recently laid off at TVA. In response, the Liberals are arguing that Bill C-11 and Bill C-18 are saving the day.

The Online Streaming Act (formerly Bill C-11) isn’t expected to take effect until late 2024 at absolute earliest (more likely 2025 and later once legal challenges set in) and the Online News Act (formerly Bill C-18) is already devastating the media landscape, already being the cause of at least 3 shutdowns. This with the damaging impacts expected to accelerate once Google follows suit in dropping news links.

Recently, however, TVA, a major Quebec broadcasting corporation, laid off a third of its workforce. From the CBC:

One of Quebec’s media giants announced Thursday that it is laying off roughly one-third of its workforce as of February.

TVA, owned by Quebecor, said it will slash 547 jobs, including 300 positions in in-house production, 98 operations positions and 149 positions in other departments.

Pierre Karl Péladeau, acting president and CEO of TVA Group and the president and CEO of Quebecor, said entertainment series like Le Tricheur, La Poule aux œufs d’or and VLOG, will still run on TVA’s airwaves but production will be outsourced.

Regional news will be broadcast out of Quebec City.

TVA said a complete reorganization of its resources is necessary because of the rapidly shifting media landscape, the popularity of streaming services and losses in web advertising revenue. The broadcaster says it lost $13 million this year, compared with $1.6 million last year.

So, it was obvious that a changing media landscape is the culprit here. People are increasingly going online and traditional broadcasters are seeing less revenue because of this dynamic shift. The obvious move, of course, would be to focus on internet offerings, offering innovative content on there and following the audience. For TVA, however, the focus for them is apparently to double down on the traditional media:

“TVA will not disappear,” said Péladeau at a news conference Thursday.

“We want to continue to offer quality programming… that will bring in advertising revenue.”

The media giant said it will refocus its mission exclusively on broadcasting — effectively ending in-house production of entertainment content, centralizing its news division and reducing its real estate.

It is painfully obvious that this is a foolish direction. Doubling down on the past while fully acknowledging that the audience is moving on to the technological offerings of today. When critics talk about legacy broadcasters and newspapers not adapting and being innovative, this is precisely the kind of thing we talk about. If doubling down on legacy broadcasting doesn’t work out for TVA, well, they only have themselves to blame on that. It would be extremely poor decision making on the part of TVA.

As it turns out, this issue was brought up during Question Period in the House of Commons and despite the painfully obvious of what is going on, the Liberals still seem to somehow think that the Online News Act and the Online Streaming Act will somehow save the day (spoiler: They won’t). From a transcript:

Mr. Martin Champoux:
Madam Speaker, a full-blown atomic bomb has dropped on the world of Quebec television. TVA, the most-watched television network in Quebec, will be laying off 547 people, a third of its workforce. We are losing extraordinary artisans of our culture. It is catastrophic.
It is catastrophic, but not surprising, unfortunately. If this is happening to TVA, all of our media are at risk. We have to rethink everything, if we want to save our media. A massive undertaking is needed.
Does the Minister of Canadian Heritage seriously think that Bills C-11 and C-18 are enough to save Quebec media?

Mr. Taleeb Noormohamed (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.):
Madam Speaker, this situation is another sad example of what the Online Streaming Act and the Online News Act are meant to address.
We understand that it is not easy to reform the media landscape to make it fair, competitive and respectful of all Canadian voices, but we have worked to ensure that markets across Canada, including the francophone market, are supported.
Our culture and our democracy depend on the measures that we are taking to support the information system that Canadians are looking for. That is what we are doing, and that is what the Conservatives have opposed every step of the way.

Mr. Martin Champoux (Drummond, BQ):
Madam Speaker, the hundreds of job losses at TVA will inevitably impact news in the regions. There will be fewer journalists, fewer editors, fewer studios, less airtime, and smaller teams with fewer resources. Add to that the fact that print and local media are in crisis, and we have the perfect recipe for our regions to fall off the radar.
Meanwhile, it is clear that the Online News Act is about to hit a wall.
What will the Minister of Canadian Heritage do to protect television, radio and newspaper news outside major urban centres?

Mr. Stéphane Lauzon (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizens’ Services, Lib.):
Madam Speaker, once again, our thoughts are with the workers and their families, particularly as the holiday season approaches.
This situation could have been avoided and all of those workers would still have jobs if the Conservatives had not spent the past few years opposing Bill C-11. Yes, Bill C‑11 is enough. Yes, we are here with a bill that is in place to help save media jobs. We managed to get Bill C‑11 passed, and it will provide solutions to protect thousands of well-paying jobs.

The level of delusion in this is staggering, but it is also noteworthy that there are Bloc MPs starting to finally realize that the failure of the Online News Act is seemingly destined to happen. The Bloc have supported and actively championed the legislation all the way up to at least royal assent. The party, like the Liberals, ignored all the warnings and dismissed all the evidence, continuing to insist that the Online News Act will be what rescues the dying non-innovating media.

It’s unfortunate that Bloc MPs had to learn the critical problems of the Online News Act the hard way, but given what has happened in the past, that was seemingly the only way they were going to learn. What’s worse is the fact that they are also stuck with a Liberal party with no “plan B” on top of it all. All the Bloc get stuck with is buyers remorse. The best they can hope for, at this stage, is permanent bailouts from the federal government. That is its own can of worms, unfortunately.

Just to add the cherry on top, it looks like the Liberals are still insisting that the two new laws are somehow going to come to the rescue of everything. The Online News Act is about to absolutely gut the news sector in Canada and businesses are basically expecting to hold out for years before the Online Streaming Act becomes law – and that’s assuming the streaming platforms don’t also pull the plug on Canada as well which is dependent on the CRTC not acting stupid in all of this (and that’s, for now, a real toss up).

The exchange shows that the Liberal party seems to continue to be living in a purely delusional fantasy world. They legitimately think that despite Facebook already dropping news links clear back to the beginning of August, that things are going along swimmingly. As long as they continue to believe that, then the chances that there will actually be a “plan B” surfacing any time soon is going to be slim. It’s like the Liberals don’t even know just how badly they screwed up and are simply in denial at this stage. The problem with that is that reality will continue to set in no matter what is going through Liberal party members minds. Unlike the Liberals delusion of things being going perfectly well, the consequences of their actions are going to continue to take hold in the real world.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top