TORONTO — The union representing employees of CHCH in Hamilton has confirmed up to 100 jobs have been cut, after the newscast was cancelled Friday evening and the company that provides news content for the TV station reportedly declared bankruptcy.
Union representative Liz Marzari said half of the bargaining unit had been targeted and 80 to 100 employees have lost their jobs. No severance packages were reportedly paid out, while wages and vacation time had been paid up-to-date.
Marzari added that those who were not fired by the company will be offered employment by the trustee of the company, without union representation.
“Your employer, the Channel 11 L.P. has declared bankruptcy, effective today. This news affects all employees and we want to share relevant information regarding this development with you as best we can,” the company said in an internal email obtained by Global News Friday.
“There are important information meetings being held at the station, but knowing that employees may not be on premises for those meetings, we have set up a conference call that you can dial into. The bankruptcy trustee and a representative from CHCH management will be hosting the call, and requires that you attend and listen to the important information that is being shared.”
Romen Podzyhun, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Channel Zero Inc., said in an impromptu message on the channel Friday afternoon that the channel had struggled financially and changes were need to keep it afloat.
“CHCH has been faced with greatly reduced funding and national advertising revenue,” he said.
“This new reality put us in an untenable situation and as a result, in order to ensure the continued broadcasting of CHCH we have made some significant changes to our programming schedule which will result in fewer overall hours of local news being aired.”
Podzyhun said decisions like this are “hardest because they impact the personal lives of so many colleagues that we care about deeply.”
“As difficult as it is, this decision will allow us to continue to deliver the local stories that matter most to this community,” he said, adding that beginning Monday, the station will once again air local news on CHCH.
“While we are forced to make cuts, the core news programs and many of the faces you’ve grown to love over the years will remain. We are unwavering in our commitment to serving this community and feel confident that these decisions will make it possible for CHCH to continue to be a trusted news source well into the future.”
President of the Canadian Association of Journalists Nick Taylor-Vaiey said the news was disheartening for the industry.
“Every time you hear about cuts in local news, no matter the effect of the cuts, fewer people in the newsroom, it’s bad news for readers and viewers and it’s bad news for the community that the news outlet serves,” he said.
“When you hear about a leaner broadcast in the wake of a bankruptcy announcement that only leads to less news and to frankly fewer story tellers holding people to account … it’s a tragedy when it happens to a community.”
Bankruptcy trustee expert and co-founder of Hoyes Michalos, Douglas Hoyes, said terminated “employees become creditors of the bankruptcy.”
“The original owners could buy the company assets from the trustee,” he said.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Global News previously reported the parent company of CHCH had declared bankruptcy. It was not the parent company, but the company that provides the station with its news content.