Hamilton’s CHCH-TV News is Bankrupt

CHCH TV logo

CBJ — It was a terrible Friday for the entire staff at CHCH TV in Hamilton when senior management told them they were all being laid off. The company contracted to provide news, Channel 11 LP has filed for bankruptcy. Parent company of CHCH, Channel Zero, has not filed for bankruptcy.

About 130 full-time and 40 part-time staff were given pink slips.  It’s believed about 55 to 60 are being re-hired on a full-time basis and are back on the air as of Monday in position being described as similar, along with roughly the same monetary compensation. Another 20 to 25 part-time jobs could be made available.  The others will not return in the streamlined operation, which will see local news programming dropped from 80 hours per week down to 17.5 to 18.

The 6pm and 11pm newscasts will now only air Monday to Friday and the 11pm news will be cut to 30 minutes from an hour. The offers of employment have come from a privately held numbered company that does not have Channel Zero as its parent company.

Other programs taken off the air include: the Noon News, Morning Live First Edition, the daytime rolling news program News Now, Square Off and Sportsline. Among some of the well-known on-air names who were let go on Friday include: Matt Hayes, Scott Urquhart, Mark Hebscher, Liz West, Brian Wood, Melissa Raftis, Cindy Csordas, Phil Perkins, Natalie Marconi and Brittany Gogo.  Among those expected to be offered employment moving forward include: Bob Cowan, Lesley Stewart, Tim Bolen, Kate Carnegie and Nick Dixon, although at this point, nothing is certain. Depending on who accepts the new offers, some not immediately offered positions may get an invite back if any spots remain open. It’s believed Eric Gage and Jason Portuondo will be back part-time handling sports duties.

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.

Bankruptcy trustee expert and co-founder of Hoyes Michalos, Douglas Hoyes, said terminated “employees become creditors of the bankruptcy.”

CHCH first went on the air back in 1954.  It very nearly went off the air in 2009 when Global Canwest went under.  However, it was saved by Channel Zero, which decided to make it a far more news-oriented station. While viewers loved it and there was a lot of local advertising buy-in, the national advertising simply did not pan out. Airing this type of programming, which requires lots of human resources and remote equipment for covering stories out in the field is extremely costly — too costly evidently.