André Corbeil, a sports reporter/anchor at CTV Montreal, surprised a few people late last week announcing via Twitter that it was his last week at the station.
Corbeil’s job was eliminated as part of a series of cuts designed to reduce the station’s staff by about a dozen. We learned about those cuts over the summer, but the actual cuts are only happening now. Most of those leaving are in technical or behind-the-scenes positions, and most are leaving voluntarily.
Corbeil, who usually anchors on the weekends and reports three days a week, was offered a part-time position that would have kept him as the weekend anchor, but “he opted to leave,” general manager Louis Douville told me.
“He was an absolute gentleman, understood that it was a business decision,” he added later. “He was an important part of our family and we’re sad to see him go.”
Corbeil is originally from Timmins, Ont., and joined CTV Montreal in 2007 after four years at CTV in Sudbury.
“[I’m] not sure exactly where I will land in the coming months, but it most likely will not be on TV,” Corbeil told me. “Not suitable for a young family.” His wife works full-time and they have a two-year-old daughter. “So, nights and weekends make life pretty difficult.”
He said he’s going to try to “use this situation to my advantage and find an opportunity that will provide a better work/family balance.”
The loss of Corbeil will likely mean a drop in the amount of sports coverage on CTV Montreal, particularly of amateur sports. While Brian Wilde is the go-to guy for Canadiens coverage, and Randy Tieman covers the Alouettes, Corbeil was usually the reporter assigned to Impact games, and would often file reports about university sports. Douville said news reporters could cover events that straddle the barrier between news and sports, but it seems clear that there will be less than there used to be of stories in this category.
Net loss of 12 jobs
The positions being cut also include the late-night anchor position that was filled by Catherine Sherriffs before she left on maternity leave. But Corbeil is the only other on-air personality who’s leaving the station.
The exact fallout is still not known because it looks like a few positions may change as some laid off exercise a right to bump less senior people out of jobs in other classifications. That has some people (particularly those that would be bumped) concerned about unqualified or less qualified people occupying posts of young talented staffers.
Among the jobs that have been eliminated are the late weeknight lineup editor (the late anchor will instead line up his own show), one researcher position, the news archivist, an editor position and several other technical jobs.
In all, it’s a net loss of 12 jobs, with 12 people leaving voluntarily. Other cuts are being offset by the creation of new positions, usually with combined responsibilities. Susan Lea, the head of the union local, says a total of 15 positions have been eliminated.
“How this will impact (the station) remains to be seen,” she said. “Our product is news, that’s our one and only product. Every job is related to that. It definitely impacts the quality and our ability to cover news.”
“We don’t want to be a jack of all trades and master of none.”
The good news is that, besides Corbeil and the voluntary layoffs, Lea doesn’t expect anyone else to lose their job. “It will be more of an internal shuffling.”
Asked about concerns these cuts would affect the quality of the newscasts, Douville seemed confident viewers wouldn’t notice anything.
“We’re convinced we’re still going to be able to do exactly the same,” he said. “Our commitment to covering local sports remains unchanged. It’s just a reality that we have to do more with less. There are many people who are going to have more responsibilities. That’s a reality that all broadcasters are living with right now.”
“We have a 60 per cent share in the market and we intend to keep that.”
The unionized workforce at CTV Montreal has been without a contract since Dec. 31, 2013. Negotiations began this spring, but were put on hold either because of the layoffs or because everyone became busy, depending on which side you talk to. Douville said the employer is committed to resuming talks for a new contract.
Weekend sports anchor job available
Corbeil’s decision to leave ironically means a job has opened up at the station for a two-day-a-week sports anchor. Though someone with a young family is probably not crazy about working weekends, there’s no doubt and endless supply of eager young broadcasters who would jump at the chance for a job like this.
The most obvious choice would be Paul Graif, who has filled in as sports anchor many times over the years. But Graif works weekdays at K103 in Kahnawake, and might not be crazy about working seven days a week.
Chantal Desjardins would have been next on the list if she hadn’t taken a job at Sportsnet.
TSN 690’s Eric Thomas would be a good choice in light of his excellent debut in October. And there are plenty of people at the sports station who would probably make fine TV sports anchors.
Douville said the job would probably be filled early in the new year.