Canwest slashes 560 jobs as downturn takes toll

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canwest Global Communications Corp is cutting 560 jobs at its newspapers and television stations to slash costs and try to cope with an advertising slowdown.

Canwest, Canada’s biggest media company, said on Wednesday that the job cuts -- about 5 percent of its workforce -- will be carried out through buyouts, attrition and layoffs.

“These reductions are in addition to several hundred jobs that have been eliminated over the last two years,” the company said in a statement, adding the latest moves will shave annualized operating costs by about C$61 million ($49 million).

Canwest’s broadcasting operations will see 210 jobs lost across all departments. The newspaper publishing division will trim 350 jobs and see the streamlining of some production processes.

As well, the money-losing National Post, Canwest’s flagship daily newspaper, will reduce discounted circulation and use new technology to target readers.

“These actions are a result of the current economic environment as well as the structural challenges in the conventional television model,” Canwest said.

Winnipeg, Manitoba-based Canwest owns daily newspapers in every major Canadian market. It also owns the Global network of TV stations and has Australian TV operations through Network Ten.

Last year, Canwest expanded its TV holdings by partnering with an affiliate of U.S. investment bank Goldman Sachs to buy specialty TV group Alliance Atlantis Communications for C$2.3 billion.

The company’s media asset base is reliant on advertising revenue. However, because of the weak economy, many companies are expected to trim their ad budgets, which in turn doesn’t bode well for firms like Canwest.

Canwest’s shares have fallen deeply as the economy and the ad markets continue to deteriorate. On Wednesday, they closed at 85 Canadian cents on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Last December, they were worth C$7.50.

($1=$1.24 Canadian)

Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski; editing by Rob Wilson