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Layoffs at A-Channel

From Milkman Unlimited :

Team 1200 / A Channel morning news anchor Dave Gross leaves CHUM Ottawa.

CHUM Televison announced the elimination of 281 full and part time positions across Canada including 23 in Ottawa.

From a story in the Ottawa Business Journal :

The elimination of 19 full-time and four part-time positions will result from the implementation of "Overdrive Automation", as well as the immediate cancellation of two half-hour afternoon programs: A-Channel at Noon and A-Channel News at 12:30 p.m.

From an anonymous A-Channel employee blog :

At A-Channel Ottawa, where I work, a handful were immediate, a few more at the end of August, and the rest -- including me -- as of January 19, 2007. I'll tell you, there was a lot of unabashed hugging and "What the f***?" going on in our newsroom this afternoon. Anyone who says they weren't blindsided by this is either lying or on cheap drugs.

More from a press release from CHUM :

Programming remains unchanged at A-Channels in London and Ottawa, except that the daily noon news show in Ottawa will be discontinued.

Concurrently, the company also announced technology changes for the production of local programming in its Citytv stations in Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg together with A-Channel stations in Ottawa and London, and the consolidation of master control and traffic operations for CKX Brandon and Citytv Winnipeg in Calgary. These technology changes will result in a reduction of 58 full time and 28 part-time positions in the News, Operations and Traffic departments.

The one-time severance costs associated with these changes will be approximately $6.8 million and the capital costs will be approximately $2.5 million The net annualized operating cost savings are projected at approximately $14.7 million. The initial changes will be implemented immediately, with all the changes expected to be fully implemented by January, 2007.

** UPDATE: ** The Ottawa Sun reports that evening news anchor James Hendricks is among the staff who will be laid off:

(Station manager Don) Mumford said Hendricks' hasty departure was not officially a part of the Toronto-based corporation's 12-city downsizing, but instead was prompted by what he described as "an image issue." The station toned down its personality when it switched from The New RO to the more conservative A-Channel format in July 2005.

The veteran broadcaster, who became the station’s lead news anchor in late 2003, was noticeably absent from last night’s newscast and the station’s website.

With Hendricks gone, the supper-hour newscast now belongs to Sandra Blaikie, who will host the newscast alone until September when a new co-anchor will be named.

** Related: ** Ottawa Television Guide