CBC making job, programming cuts

'Fashion File' canceled; 'Steven & Chris' going on hiatus

TORONTO -- Falling ad revenue and shrinking programming budgets continue to take a toll on the Canadian TV industry.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. said late Tuesday that it is pulling the plug on "Fashion File," its long-running fashion industry newsmagazine, and putting the daytime lifestyle talker "Steven & Chris" on hiatus next season.

The cuts, prompted by a growing ad revenue shortfall at the pubcaster, will cost six permanent and 28 contract positions.

The CBC also will consider deeper job and programming cuts at a board meeting next week in the wake of federal heritage minister James Moore confirming that Ottawa will not bail the broadcaster out of its current budgetary shortfall.

Rival CTV also continued its cost-cutting ways this week, firing 24 local TV station employees that feed news segments to "Canada AM," the network's flagship morning news show.

CTV also is canceling "First News," the 6-6:30 a.m. show produced out of Montreal. Three jobs will be lost and a fourth vacant position will go unfilled.

The move shutters CTV's last remaining local morning newscast after it unveiled widespread cuts last month at its secondary A Channel TV stations.

Meanwhile, uncertainty at Canwest Global Communications, which is shedding assets to service a growing debt load, has led indie producers to halt production on their shows until the broadcaster signs season-renewal contracts.

Toronto-based Westwind Pictures has put "Home to Flip," a reality series produced for Canwest Global's HGTV cable channel, on hiatus for two weeks. Mary Darling, an executive producer at Westwind, said the decision to pause production was her own and done as a safeguard measure as she awaits a green light for Season 2.

Also on voluntary hiatus is "Sarah's House," Primevista Television's lifestyle series for Food Network Canada.

Canwest Global, which is saddled with a CAN$3.9 billion debt load, had until Wednesday to renegotiate a CAN$300 million credit facility and was scheduled to make a key CAN$38 million interest payment by Sunday. Late Wednesday, its negotiating deadline was extended to April 7, and it will not make the Sunday payment.
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