Corus uproots WTN to Toronto, lays off 50

Days after receiving approval from the CRTC for its $205-million purchase of WTN, Corus Entertainment announced it will be moving the Winnipeg-based women’s channel into its Toronto television facility.

Roughly 50 people from the Winnipeg operation were laid off, including the entire management team.

Master control and traffic operations, contracted from CTV’s CKY-TV, will remain in Winnipeg.

Last March, the Toronto-based media giant bought WTN from Moffat Communications. The channel was put on the block after Shaw Communications acquired Moffat four months earlier.

At the time, Corus president and CEO John Cassaday told Playback he intended to keep the WTN management team in place, but following an intense evaluation process, Corus has decided to centralize operations in Toronto.

By mid-January, WTN will be housed in the same Toronto facility as YTV, Treehouse TV, Country Music Television and five new digital specialty channels, allowing the women’s specialty to benefit from the centre’s state-of-the-art technology, programming and research resources, and marketing and sales teams.

‘By bringing WTN into our infrastructure, we can have the network focus on programming and client relationships,’ says Bryan Ellis, Corus’ group VP of adult television. ‘Here it can benefit from cross-promotion and shared resources. WTN also shares some viewers with YTV.’

Over the last two months Corus has conducted extensive research to determine what changes, if any, should be made to the WTN programming schedule.

‘We’ve heard a great deal of respect for its information programming, so we won’t back away from issue content. And we are required by licence to provide entertainment programming, so we’ll continue with that,’ says Ellis.

WTN’s licence was renewed this year. The network is committed to 70% Cancon, and of the remaining 30%, only 5% can be American content.

By mid-December, Corus is expected to name a new female general manager to head up WTN’s Toronto operation.