11/13/2012 02:58 EST | Updated 11/13/2012 03:00 EST

TVOntario Job Cuts: Budget Shortfall Forces 35 To 40 Layoffs, Cancellation Of 'Saturday Night at the Movies'

Danielle Scott via Flickr

Faced with decreased funding from the Ontario government, public broadcaster TVOntario is eliminating 35 to 40 jobs and cancelling a number of TV shows, including the iconic "Saturday Night at the Movies," the station announced on Tuesday.

At the same time, TVOntario plans to focus more heavily on “digital innovation in children's educational media and current affairs.”

The government of Premier Dalton McGuinty announced in its 2012 budget that TVOntario would have to become less dependent on government funding.

This appears to have translated into a push for $2 million in savings at the broadcaster, or about five per cent of its budget. TVO did not say whether the job cuts would be layoffs or departures through attrition.

Among the other shows cancelled are "Alan Gregg in Conversation" and the "Big Ideas" lecture series, both of which are now airing their final season.

The Canadian Press reports:

TORONTO — Ontario's publicly funded broadcaster is cutting up to 40 positions and cancelling "Saturday Night at the Movies'' after a nearly four decade run as part of an effort to save $2 million.

TVO says it will put more resources into "digital innovation in children's educational media'' and current affairs as it addresses reduced government funding.

The broadcaster says its plan will see 35 to 40 current employees "leave'' TVO between now and the end of March 2013.

As a results, TVO will have fewer staff dedicated to traditional TV production and a enhanced focus on digital technology.

The current season of ``Saturday Night at the Movies'' will be its last. "Allan Gregg in Conversation'' and "Big Ideas'' will also go off the air in the spring.

TVO says it plans to include some "Big Ideas'' lectures as part of "The Agenda with Steve Paikin.''

"These are tough decisions but times change and we have to adapt and innovate,'' CEO Lisa de Wilde said in a release.

"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.''

The show was perhaps best known for its longtime affable and enthusiastic host, Elwy Yost. His interviews with classic film stars and the directors, composers and screen-writers behind the camera would run between the films.

Yost hosted the show for 25 years before retiring in 1999. He died last year at the age of 85.

The Ontario government indicated in this year's budget that all public agencies, including TVO, need to reduce their reliance on government money, TVO noted.

"TVO's plan responds to this fiscal reality and allows the organization to build a sustainable financial model in 2013-14 and beyond,'' the broadcaster said.

"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.''

TVO said its total operating budget for the current fiscal year is $64 million, of which the Ontario Ministry of Education contributes $42 million.

The additional $22 million comes from revenue TVO generates through donations and corporate sponsorships, among other things.

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