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Quebec media giant TVA lays off more than 500 employees, almost a third of its workforce

TVA announced it will be laying off 547 employees after seeing a $13-million deficit this year, mostly due to loss of advertising revenue.

Company blames changing media landscape, unfair competition, government inaction

Building with T-V-A logo.

One of Quebec's media giants announced Thursday that it is laying off roughly one-third of its workforce as of February.

TVA, owned by Quebecor, said it will slash 547 jobs, including 300 positions in in-house production, 98 operations positions and 149 positions in other departments.

Pierre Karl Péladeau, acting president and CEO of TVA Group and the president and CEO of Quebecor, said entertainment series like Le Tricheur, La Poule aux œufs d'or and VLOG, will still run on TVA's airwaves but production will be outsourced.

Regional news will be broadcast out of Quebec City.

TVA said a complete reorganization of its resources is necessary because of the rapidly shifting media landscape, the popularity of streaming services and losses in web advertising revenue. The broadcaster says it lost $13 million this year, compared with $1.6 million last year.

"TVA will not disappear," said Péladeau at a news conference Thursday.

"We want to continue to offer quality programming… that will bring in advertising revenue."

The media giant said it will refocus its mission exclusively on broadcasting — effectively ending in-house production of entertainment content, centralizing its news division and reducing its real estate.

Péladeau suggested TVA's building at 1600 De Maisonneuve Blvd. in Montreal could be turned into social housing.

"The traditional television business model has been disrupted on all sides: shrinking audiences, declining subscriptions, falling advertising revenues, fierce competition and aggressive bidding for entertainment content and sports rights," said TVA in a news release.

It also said those problems are compounded by CBC/Radio-Canada unfairly competing with private broadcasters for advertising revenue.

TVA had already cut 140 professional and managerial positions in February 2023 and had cancelled some of its programing, but today said those measures weren't enough to stay afloat.

"The deficit TVA Group is currently running is simply no longer sustainable," said Péladeau.

"We have a responsibility to correct the situation. TVA has historically been an important vehicle for Quebec culture, language and news. We have a duty to preserve it and ensure its sustainability."

The union representing TVA employees said it was the "darkest day in [their] history" and that it was not informed of the cuts before the announcement. It also said the announcement goes against the workers' collective agreement.

But TVA journalist Gilles Valiquette said he was not surprised by the announcement "given everything happening with news media."

"My biggest wish is that we maintain the quality of the work we've always done, and that will come from a new generation of young people," he said.

'Dramatic wake-up call'

Quebec politicians quickly reacted to Quebecor's announcement, saying the move will be a massive loss for the province.

"The restructuring at TVA is a dramatic wake-up call: more than 500 television craftspeople laid off, the industry weakened like never before, and our French-language culture weakened," Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet on X, formerly known as Twitter.

He said internet giants must be prevented from taking large portions of media revenue.

Mathieu Lacombe, Quebec's minister of culture and communications, said it is sad news, particularly for the employees affected by the layoffs. He himself was once a news anchor for TVA Nouvelles on TVA affiliate CHOT-DT in Gatineau, Que.

Those who lost their jobs are now feeling incertitude, he said, and "this is a difficult time for them, and their families."

He said the news industry has been facing a growing crisis year after year, and it's been challenging to adapt to the changing times. As it is, news business models aren't functioning well in the digital age, the minister said.

His government has given millions in financial aid to the news industry, but clearly further discussions with the heads of the news industry are needed to see how the province can help.

Québec Solidaire MNA Ruba Ghazal, who is the party's culture critic, called for the creation of a media support fund to prevent further layoffs in the media sector.

"It's a question of the survival of our culture, our language and our heritage," she said.

Parti Québécois MNA Pascal Bérubé, whose partner is a TVA employee, said it was a "dark Thursday" for Quebec culture.

"I hope this won't impact the coverage of important events," he said. "Democracy rests on information."

He said he is worried about the coverage coming out of the National Assembly and that there will be a loss of control over regional news.

"Tomorrow it will be another media. No one wins … This doesn't send out a good message for the news industry."

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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