Broadcaster Magazine

TVO Announces Plan That ‘Looks to Future’

TVO, Ontario’s public educational media organization, has announced its plan to address changes in its government funding, while further focusing TVO’s content strategy on core priorities and allowing the organization to direct more resources to digital innovation in children’s educational media and current affairs.

“As a publicly-funded organization, TVO has a responsibility to deliver on its educational mission, with the greatest impact, across multiple platforms,” said Lisa de Wilde, Chief Executive Officer. “To do this we must find cost savings in some areas and direct more resources into others.”

According to de Wilde, all media are responding to the changing realities of multi-platform content distribution, new business models and financial constraints. In the March 2012 provincial budget announcement, the Ontario government indicated that TVO, like other public agencies, needs to reduce its reliance on government funding to help reduce the provincial deficit. TVO’s plan responds to this fiscal reality and allows the organization to build a sustainable financial model in 2013-14 and beyond.

TVO will reduce current expenses and re-allocate resources into digital innovation in children’s media and current affairs, for a net reduction of $2M (five per cent of its provincial operating grant or three per cent of its total budget). The plan involves changes within the organization and 35-40 current employees will leave TVO between now and the end of March 2013. It includes fewer staff dedicated to traditional TV production and new multifunctional roles that leverage the efficiencies of digital technology.

“Streamlined production processes will allow us to create the kind of distinct content that delivers on our mission and to be more productive with every dollar we have,” said de Wilde.

Given reduced resources, TVO has made the difficult decision to discontinue three series at the end of the season next spring. This will be the final season for Allan Gregg in Conversation, as well as for the Big Ideas lecture series — but TVO will continue to present special lectures under its flagship The Agenda with Steve Paikin brand. This will also be the final season of the long-running Saturday Night at the Movies.

“These are tough decisions but times change and we have to adapt and innovate. When Saturday Night at the Movies began almost 40 years ago, it broke new ground but now entire TV networks and web services are dedicated to movies,” said de Wilde. “The choices we’ve made will direct TVO’s resources to the kind of high quality educational content that you can’t find anywhere else.”

At the same time, TVO is focusing on digital innovation in two priority areas that set the organization apart in the media landscape: by expanding 21st century digital learning resources for kids, parents and teachers; and directing more resources into the growth of The Agenda with Steve Paikin and Civics 101 as a multi-platform hub for civic engagement in the big issues of the day. TVO’s commitment to support Ontario’s independent producers and to bring audiences the best in factual, science, arts, natural history and history documentaries from around the world remains unchanged.

TVO executives will be meeting with the leaders of its two bargaining units, CEP and CMG, and will by the end of this week present the specifics of the changes and the options available to those affected employees.

“TVO exists to help make the world a better place, by helping every child in Ontario to develop a love of learning and by enabling every citizen to become an informed and engaged citizen. While some of these changes will not be easy, they will position TVO most effectively to deliver on our educational promise to help to make the citizens of Ontario smarter, more aware and more informed in the years ahead,” said de Wilde.