Movie Central, Nelvana at center of Corus shuffle

Corus Entertainment has eliminated 83 full-time jobs and shut down its offices in Edmonton, the U.K. and Los Angeles following a reorganization of its animation and broadcasting units.

The cuts occurred mostly in Edmonton – among programmers, engineers, web designers and others – where Corus closed its Movie Central office. The pay-TV channel will now operate solely out of its Toronto headquarters.

Corus TV president Paul Robertson cites duplication of effort as the main reason for the Edmonton closure.

‘We [now] have one origination center instead of two. The marketing group is now a single entity instead of two, as are the programming teams,’ he says.

Amid the reshuffling, Corus created a new lifestyle, drama and movies unit for its non-kids channels Movie Central, W Network, CMT and horror-movie station Scream.

Under a new kids unit, the company has split its crown jewel cartoon house into Nelvana Studios and Nelvana Enterprises, which will focus on international broadcast sales, new platform opportunities and licensing.

‘The attempt here was to create two strong content hubs in the television group,’ says Robertson. ‘One would focus on kids programming, and the other would focus on all of our adult brands – from movies to lifestyle programming.’

Doug Murphy (former Nelvana EVP of business development) will serve as president of Nelvana Enterprises, while Scott Dyer (former EVP of business development) will head up the kids division, reporting to Robertson.

Among other staff changes at Corus Kids: Phil Piazza is now VP of programming and business development, Jocelyn Hamilton becomes VP of creative development, Irene Weibel is VP of international, and Helen Lebeau becomes VP of studio operations.

Susan Ross has been tapped as EVP for the new lifestyle, drama and movies unit.

Robertson insists the changes do not affect the amount of programming Corus would take from the independent production community.

‘The large majority of our programming on YTV will continue to come from the independent side. And we would expect to do about the same amount of output from Nelvana that we’ve done historically,’ he says.

Lewis Dawson, chair of CEP Local 1900, which represents MC, says the union was ‘blindsided’ by the layoff announcement.

‘We still can’t see the logic in it, because we were profitable and our subscriber count was going up,’ he says. Dawson’s job as web coordinator at MC was among the cuts.

The new organizational structure will be in place by January 2007.

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