Merry Christmas, fired CTV employees. Your lump of coal arrived yesterday.
It will be hard for CTV news anchor Tim Weber, entertainment reporter Jacintha Wesselingh (right) and Kate Wheeler of CTV NewsNet to feel the Christmas spirit this week. They are among the casualties in yesterday's CTV cuts.
With the downturn in the economy, massive layoffs have been announced almost everywhere in Canadian television, including yesterdays news that 105 jobs will be eliminated at CTV. The cuts come mainly in the Toronto region and especially at CTV specialty channels MuchMusic and Star! Read the CP report on Canoe here.
Weber's been a CTV fixture for years. Tried to look up his bio on the CTV site today but too late. All a search there returned were the words "UNDEFINED VALUE." Man, I know how that feels.
In a town hall-style meeting, CTV sold the bad news to its employees last week, explaining it as fallout from the cratering economy. Both CTV and Global have wailed that the conventional, terrestrial, broadcast business is reeling and not getting that freebee carriage fee loot they requested from the CRTC late last month was the trigger to these massive job losses.
So how come it is CTV's specialty channels, and not the broadcast division, that are getting gutted this Christmas? In terms of numbers, the biggest single chunk of the CTV job losses seem to be coming in channels related to music and youth. Isn't CTV simply using the challenging economy as a way to rationalize ownership of MTV and several CHUM acquisitions?
Look at what got hit yesterday. MuchMoreMusic has basically shut down production. Star! has basically shut down production.
Some big salaries have also been dumped. Marcia Martin--one of the last "Day One" CHUM employees (she started in 1972 as a receptionist!) before going on to launch such franchises as Fashion Television and Star!, is gone. CTV had her down as running "special projects," which is pretty much like having your show moved to Friday nights.
The New Music--one of those "heritage" shows that helped define the early days at City-TV and Much--gone.
Spared, at least, is Traci Melchor (left), the Pickering-native who is one of MuchMoreMusic's few remaining well known personalities. She is being folded into the eTalk tent.
Among the Much honchos who survived the transition to CTV last year only to get the heave yesterday is Sarah Crawford, vice president, public affairs for CTVglobemedia. Crawford was a leader in diversity and human rights issues and won the 2005 "Woman of the Year" award from Canadian Women in Communications. You've come a long way baby--oops, the economy is in the toilet, get back in the kitchen.
As for the on-air talent, apparently CTV is firing in reverse alphabetical order (good news for people named "Bentley" or "Chan"), so it's goodbye Weber, Wesselingh (another former CHUM receptionist) and Wheeler. Wesselingh is just coming off a maternity leave. Ho-Ho-Ho!
Other departments facing cuts include the slumping entertainment show eTalk, and CTV's communications and special events divisions. CTV has been very mum on exactly who got axed today, with calls to publicists all being referred back to corporate V.P. Bonnie Brownlee. If her terse and redundant email back is any indication, she didn't get to be head of corporate communications for nothing.
It should all come out in the chatty press room at tonight's annual celebration of all things television in Canada, The Gemini Awards. The industry wank is back in Toronto and apparently still being broadcast, although clearly it's not on CTV. It's on MacLean/Hunter Cable 10, or the Dumont Network or something. Party on, kids.