CBC merges drama and comedy as programming shakeup continues

The twin divisions will be merged into one department, scripted prime time, to be headed up by ex-comedy chief Jenny Hacker.

CBC drama head Tom Hastings is out and comedy chief Jenny Hacker is promoted as the Canadian pubcaster merges its comedy and drama departments in the wake of recent budget cuts.

Sally Catto, who recently returned to the CBC as executive director of commissioned and scripted programming, is combining the long-standing drama and comedy divisions into one entity to be called scripted prime time.

Jenny Hacker, formerly creative head of comedy, becomes a senior director of scripted prime time, reporting to Catto.

Making way for Hacker is Hastings, who is leaving as creative head of drama.

“Tom has made significant contributions to CBC’s drama department and will undoubtedly continue to have a significant impact on the Canadian television industry going forward. He will be missed at CBC,” Catto said Wednesday in a statement.

The pubcaster’s commissioned and scripted departments will also lose three positions as the CBC continues to absorb budget chops imposed on it by the federal government, with a resulting drop in programming dollars.

“Jenny’s creative instincts are exceptional and given her proven track record and ability to think strategically, she is an ideal choice to lead our new division going forward,” Catto added of Hacker’s promotion.

Despite the cuts, the CBC has been busily developing new series for its primetime slate.

The pubcaster has just ordered to pilot the comedy The Khouris from Tim McAuliffe (Up All Night), a second comedy Leilah and Jen from Katie Ford (Miss Congeniality), the one hour drama Port Hope from Heather Conkie and Entertainment One Television and 19-2, an English-language adaptation of the Radio Canada French-language series that is produced by Sphere Media Plus, and Echo Media.