Cash-Strapped CBC to Stop Glitzy Reality Competition Series

2:54 PM PST 04/10/2014 by Etan Vlessing
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CBC will no longer broadcast NHL games.

The Canadian pubcaster said it is cancelling "Battle of the Blades" as it looks to balance its books with another round of job and programming cuts.

TORONTO – As the dust settles from the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.'s financial reality check, big-budget reality shows are no longer on the cards for the cash-strapped public broadcaster.

"Doing the big shiny floor, elimination shows are probably not going to be for us, because when you're going to take some risks with this stuff, you can't blow your brains out with hugely expensive shows," Heather Conway, executive vp English services at the CBC, told reporters Thursday during a conference call.

Her comments followed the public broadcaster earlier in the day indicating it will cut 657 jobs over two years to close a $130 million budgetary shortfall.

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The CBC will also cancel Battle of the Blades, an elimination-style ice dance competition show from Insight Productions, to help trim programming costs.

In addition, the pubcaster will look to brand integration and other coin-raising partnerships to mount future reality series, and create fewer and cheaper TV shows due to reduced government subsidies and the loss of NHL revenue from next season.

The CBC on Thursday also indicated it would no longer compete for TV rights to professional sports.

The pubcaster has been hobbled by the loss of NHL rights to Rogers Media after the private sector rival recently inked a new $5.2 billion (US$4.9 billion) deal with the pro hockey league.

The CBC will continue to bid for rights to marquee sporting events like the Olympics, the Pan Am Games and the Commonwealth Games because it can line up partnering broadcasters to offset the cost and risk associated with those sporting rights. "We think the model for those can be a flexible one," Conway told reporters.

The latest round of cost-cutting at the CBC underlines just how much Canadian free, over-the-air broadcasters are bleeding from a continuing advertising revenue crunch.

STORY: CBC to Cut 657 Jobs Over Two Years

Plus, it spotlights just how valuable airing NHL games for hockey-mad Canadians is to broadcasters here.

Rogers Media earlier in the week told the CRTC, the country's TV watchdog, that it will use its new NHL TV rights deal to eliminate around 20 percent of the U.S. network series on the City free, over-the-air network to stem years of ad revenue losses.

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