Industry unions cry foul over CBC drama cuts

The guilds insist the CBC cutting back on its radio and TV output has dire implications for Canadian screenwriters and performers that depend on the pubcaster for their livelihoods.

The CBC airing 175 fewer hours of original programming next year has industry unions looking in Ottawa’s direction and crying foul.

“If the government is intent on being fiscally responsible and creating jobs, it makes no sense that they would slash their investment in an industry that has proven to be so efficient at job creation,” ACTRA national president Ferne Downey said in a statement this week after the pubcaster said it will cut the equivalent of six TV series from its primetime output.

“The CBC is an economic driver in our creative economy, so what the government is doing here is counterintuitive to its own principles,” Downey added after the CBC on Tuesday began outlining how it will deal with an $85 million budget cut to English radio and TV services.

Another job killer for ACTRA voice actors: the elimination of drama on CBC Radio One.

The Writers Guild of Canada also criticized the federal government for making it harder for the CBC to commission and air homegrown shows as it cuts the CBC annual taxpayer subsidy.

WGC executive director Maureen Parker in her own statement said Canadian TV audiences were tuning into CBC dramas, of which there will be fewer after Ottawa dropped the axe on the pubcaster.

“… audiences are telling us with their remotes that this is what they want – CBC’s Republic of Doyle, Arctic Air, The Rick Mercer Report and Heartland regularly draw more than 1 million viewers.”