One of Quebec’s media giants announced Thursday that it will lay off about a third of its workforce starting in February.
Quebecor-owned TVA said it will cut 547 jobs, including 300 positions in internal production, 98 operations positions and 149 positions in other departments.
Pierre Karl Péladeau, acting president and CEO of TVA Group and president and CEO of Quebecor, said that entertainment series such as The Tricheur, La Poule aux œufs d’or and VLOGOwill continue to air on TVA airwaves, but production will be outsourced.
Regional news will be broadcast from Quebec City.
TVA said a complete reorganization of its resources is necessary due to the rapidly changing media landscape, the popularity of streaming services and losses in web advertising revenue. The station says it lost $13 million this year, compared to $1.6 million last year.
“TVA will not disappear,” Péladeau said at a news conference Thursday.
“We want to continue offering quality programming… that will generate advertising revenue.”
The media giant said it will refocus its mission solely on broadcasting, effectively ending in-house production of entertainment content, centralizing its news division and reducing its real estate footprint.
Péladeau suggested the TVA building at 1600 De Maisonneuve Blvd. in Montreal could be converted 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,” TVA said in a statement. Press release.
He also said those problems are compounded by CBC/Radio-Canada’s unfair competition with private broadcasters for advertising revenue.
TVA had already cut 140 professional and management positions in February 2023 and canceled some of its programming, but today said those measures were not enough to stay afloat.
“The deficit currently suffered by the TVA group 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.”
TVA journalist Gilles Valiquette said he was not surprised by the announcement “given everything that happens with the media.”
“My greatest wish is that we maintain the quality of work that we have always done and that it comes 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 huge loss for the province.
“The restructuring of TVA is a dramatic wake-up call: more than 500 television artisans were laid off, the industry was weakened like never before and our francophone culture was weakened,” said Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet in X, formerly known as Twitter.
He said Internet giants must be stopped from taking large chunks of media revenues.
Mathieu Lacombe, Quebec’s Minister of Culture and Communications, said it’s sad news, especially for employees affected by the layoffs. He himself was a news anchor for TVA Nouvelles on TVA affiliate CHOT-DT in Gatineau, Que.
Those who lost their jobs now feel uncertainty, 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 has been a challenge to adapt to the changing times. As things stand, news business models are not working well in the digital age, the minister said.
His government has given millions in financial aid to the news industry, but clearly more conversations are needed with news industry bosses to see how the province can help.
Quebec Solidaire MP Ruba Ghazal, the party’s cultural critic, called for the creation of a media support fund to prevent more layoffs in the media sector.
“It is a question of the survival of our culture, our language and our heritage,” he said.
Parti Québécois member Pascal Bérubé, whose partner is a TVA employee, said it was a “dark Thursday” for Quebec culture.
“I hope this does not affect the coverage of important events,” he said. “Democracy is based on information.”
He said he is concerned about the coverage coming out of the National Assembly and that there will be a loss of control over regional news.
“Tomorrow will be another media. Nobody wins… This does not send a good message to the news industry.”