The evening, late night and weekend newscasts of Ottawa’s A Channel television station have been axed and 34 people laid off, part of a national layoff of 118 people, CTVglobemedia Inc. announced yesterday.
The morning newscast will undergo a style change and be lengthened to four hours, and a Saturday morning 7 to 9 a.m. show will be added, but on-air personalities Karen Solomon, Ken Evraire and Doug Hempstead were let go.
“The three of them just got caught up in a numbers game,” said Richard Gray, vice-president and general manager of A Channel. “They’re all really good people, all very talented people.”
A Channel is owned by CTV Limited, a division of CTVglobemedia, which last week announced the broadcast licences for two southern Ontario A channel stations in Wingham and Wheatley would not be renewed when they expire in August.
Yesterday’s layoffs, which struck 10 people in the Pembroke operation and 24 in Ottawa, were more than just a cost-saving measure.
“This is a stopgap measure to buy us some time until the CRTC hopefully can recognize that the conventional television business in Canada is broken,” Gray said, adding that there will be even more programming cuts and station closures if the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission doesn’t change the way conventional television stations are financed.
Local stations want what’s called fee-for-carriage, which is a small fee per cable and satellite subscriber that would be turned over to local broadcasters to help fund local programming, he said.
“For years and years and years, cable companies have received local station signals for free,” Gray said.
Alternative programming will run in the newscast timeslots.