I am still catching up on the news I missed out on while I was vacationing in Cuba. It turns out there was a big bloodbath Friday at local independent station CHCH in Hamilton.
129 full-time and 38 part-time people were let go (though I understand a smaller amount were immediately hired back), and they cut their news output from 80 hours a week down to 17.5. A lot of big names in Hamilton TV lost their jobs. Sports guy Ken Welch, weather guy Matt Hayes, Donna Skelly, Lauren Sabourin, Liz West, Mark Hebscher, a number of them. These were people who, for the most part, were at the station back when I was still living in Ontario and watching their newscasts.
This follows on the heels of the huge bloodbath that hit CTV across the country. Compared to Bell Media and their profits, though, it sounds as if CHCH was in really dire financial straits and had actually filed for bankruptcy. This isn’t the first time CHCH has had problems, either; I remember the station almost closed down completely a number of years ago before Channel Zero took over.
This is another bit of news that doesn’t give me much confidence about the news business in Canada — in particular, the TV news business. And a fine time of year for this to happen, too. Merry Christmas, ho ho ho.
Update: I notice the CBC has up a piece with some of the goodbyes from the on-air people who departed CHCH. I noticed Mark Hebscher held nothing back in telling it like it is about the shabby way people were treated by the station.
All said, it’s sad and troubling times for CHCH and the entire news business in Canada, really.