Canada's public broadcaster, the CBC, to shrink further, CEO says

TORONTO, June 26 Thu Jun 26, 2014 1:43pm EDT

TORONTO, June 26 (Reuters) - Canada's public broadcaster will continue to shrink in the coming years in the face of reduced funding, its top executive said on Thursday, as it cuts headcount and in-house production and focuses more on Internet and mobile users.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp (CBC) has already scaled back its traditional television and radio operations following funding cuts by the country's Conservative government.

It has also been hurt by the same shifts in the advertising market that have hit other traditional broadcasters such as BCE Inc's CTV network and Shaw Communications Inc's Global network.

The CBC's chief executive, Hubert Lacroix, said the latest cutbacks, which include selling real estate and other assets, should put the broadcaster on a sustainable path.

"Every change we are making through this strategy is designed to ensure we put as many of our resources into great content as possible," he said.

The CBC is aiming to win over younger audiences with content suited to the devices they increasingly use to access news, sports and entertainment. The network will also be less likely to have produced that content, saving cash.

After reductions announced in April, the CBC employs about 7,500 people. It wants to cut that to between 6,000 and 6,500 by 2020, a spokeswoman said in an email.

In April, after losing lucrative rights to National Hockey League games that it had held for decades to Rogers Communications Inc, the CBC cut 650 jobs and said it would no longer seek rights to professional sports events.

By 2020, Lacroix said he expects the CBC to reach 18 million Canadians each month via bumped-up digital services. That's about double the current reach.

The government minister responsible for the CBC, Heritage Minister Shelly Glover, said the arm's length corporation gets more than C$1 billion ($930 million) from taxpayers each year and should adapt while operating within that budget.

($1=$1.07 Canadian) (Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson; and Peter Galloway)

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