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Sports department cut at CTV News Barrie: Union

More layoffs at local television station

Two veteran camera operators have been laid off from CTV News Barrie and the sports department has been eliminated, according to the president of Unifor Local 714-M.

"They're basically dropping sports from the newscast unless it's a big story,' said Jim Holmes.

Holmes has been at the Beacon Road station for 38 years and says when he started, there was a staff of 120.

"With this layoff, we're down to 30. Over 80 percent of the staff has been let go since 1983."

Sports anchors Alastair Connolly and Mike Arsalides were offered positions as news videographers, said Holmes. 

The layoffs at the Barrie station were part of a Canada-wide 'restructuring' at Bellmedia last week but the company declined to give numbers.

Spokesman Scott Henderson told the Canadian Press that the restructuring comes as it and other media companies in the country face increasing international competition, the evolution of broadcast technology, and advertising and regulatory pressure.

Henderson said regulatory decisions, like the CRTC banning Bell Media from substituting Canadian ads with American ones during the Super Bowl this year, have had a significant effect on revenue.

Ironically, as the layoffs unfolded, Holmes was part of a contingent of 22 union representatives from across Canada in Ottawa last week speaking to Liberal MPs to discuss challenges and possible solutions.

"To keep TV stations such as CKVR alive," he said.

Holmes is nearing retirement and says he is not so concerned about his future career.

"I'm concerned about local TV and the importance of local TV to the Canadian culture -  to the voices, to the communities that they represent - and one of the big parts of that is sports. I find it incredibly important that you cover those events," he said. 

"People have got to stand up and react," he said. "Call your MP. Write the CRTC."


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Sue Sgambati

About the Author: Sue Sgambati

Sue has had a 30-year career in journalism working for print, radio and TV. She is a proud member of the Barrie community.
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