TVA Group lays off more than 500 employees as audiences and ad revenues shrink

MONTREAL — The TVA Group says it is laying off 547 employees — nearly a third of its workforce — amid restructuring as the company contends with declining audiences and ad revenues.

The Montreal-based broadcaster says the shift involves overhauling its news division, ending its in-house entertainment content production and optimizing its real estate assets — including a reconsideration of the future use of its headquarters east of downtown.

Pierre Karl Péladeau, CEO of Quebecor Inc., which owns TVA, said in a press release that the subsidiary's deficit is no longer sustainable.

The company aims to refocus its activities, reduce operating costs and continue to offer original Quebec content, Péladeau said.

The company attributed its financial strain to the proliferation of streaming services and the shift of advertising spending to web giants rather than legacy media.

"For over 10 years, TVA Group has been telling government bodies and regulators that the situation is urgent. Canada's private media companies must be able to operate in a modernized ecosystem that can adapt to a borderless digital world," said Péladeau.

TVA also took a shot at social media platforms for benefiting from links to news stories without paying for content and at CBC/Radio-Canada, which it deemed unfair competition.

One of the steps it said it's taken to improve its financial position is to advocate for the removal of advertising from all CBC/Radio-Canada platforms, as well as for "a tightening of its mandate as a public broadcaster to better complement the private sector."

Among the other steps it said it's taken are the elimination of 140 professional and managerial jobs in February, the implementation of new technologies and the cancellation of some programs.

In July, Quebecor announced it would withdraw all advertising by its subsidiaries and business units from Facebook and Instagram in response to Meta's decision to block Canadian journalistic content from its platforms. The move by the tech giant was in reaction to the Online News Act, which seeks to make companies such as Meta pay news organizations for sharing their content.

"More than ever, this demands regulatory relief, flexibility and tax credits that more adequately and equitably reflect the conditions facing broadcasters and producers in the television industry," said Péladeau.

"The fact is that not only has nothing changed, but the situation is now worse than ever. The lack of consideration for our industry, coupled with the mounting challenges it confronts, has forced us to take unprecedented action."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 2, 2023.

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