Friday, January 23, 2009

Canwest Publishing internal memo details severe cost cutting measures

Canwest Publishing details severe cost cutting measures including freeze on hiring, salary increases, travel, consultants, conferences and more

I have obtained an internal memorandum from Dennis Skulsky, President and CEO of Canwest Publishing and Doug Lamb, Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, Canwest Publishing which details a series of significant cost cutting measures to be implemented by Canwest newspapers across Canada.

Canwest Publishing is a division of Canwest Global Communications Corporation.

Canwest publishes the National Post, Vancouver Sun, Ottawa Citizen, Edmonton Journal and other major market and community newspapers with a combined weekly readership of over 5 million. Canwest Global also owns the Global Television network.

Canwest reported a $33 million quarterly loss earlier this month and recently announced it was dropping morning and noon newscasts at Global Toronto's television station.

The cuts include:

A freeze on all hiring.

A freeze on salaries until the end of the fiscal year.

A freeze on travel with "essential" travel requiring publisher's approval for economy class or best price single tickets only.

A freeze on meals, catering and entertainment expenses, including food at meetings.

A freeze on attending conferences and seminars.

Ending contracts with external consultants.

Limiting use of cell phones, with a goal of reducing the number of cell phones by 20 to 25%.

Delaying capital expenses unless absolutely necessary.

Reducing energy usage.

Cancelling subscriptions.

Creating a Voluntary Vacation Leave program for unpaid employee holidays.

Suspending "national employee events for this year," including the Vancouver Sun Run, Hockey Tournament, Slo-Pitch Tournament, Enlightened Leader sessions and Leadership Forum.

[NOTE - The Georgia Straight's Charlie Smith reports tonight that Vancouver Sun Managing Editor Kirk LaPointe tells him the Sun Run has NOT been cancelled - the Canwest memo is unclear as to it's status - as you can see below.]

Encouraging employees to suggest further cost-cutting measures.

Here is the complete internal memo:


Date: January 23, 2009

To: All Canwest Publishing

From: Dennis Skulsky and Doug Lamb

Subject: Cost Control

As you know, our business is facing unprecedented pressure due to both the global economic downturn and challenges to our traditional publishing business.

The recent voluntary buyout program and costsaving initiatives we have implemented are proving to not be enough to offset advertising revenue shortfalls.

We are faced with significant advertising declines across the board but in particular in our employment, real estate and auto advertising categories.

As a result,across our organization, teams are taking a hard look at how to affectthe one lever we have absolute control over, our costs.

Following are a few initiatives underway and additional tactics that will contribute to our cost savings objectives:

· A freeze on all hiring. All new hire requests – including replacement and backfill positions – must be approved by the appropriate publishing executive management committee member and the SVP People. Expenses for consultants, freelancers and contractors mustbe approved at the publisher/SVP level.

· A freeze on salaries until the end of the fiscal year (September). Any exceptions must be approved by the President of Publishing.

· A freeze on travel. Essential travel must be approved inadvance of booking at the publisher/SVP level. All approved travel should be economy class or best price single tickets only – for alllevels within the organization.

· A freeze on meals, catering and entertainment expenses. An immediate freeze on all food at meetings. This includes previouslyfunded or subsidised coffee/snacks/drinks. Only expenses related toexternal customers and suppliers that are pre approved will be reimbursed. Approval for the expenses must be obtained in advance from a Publisher or SVP level executive.

· Evaluation of marketing and promotional spends. All marketing and promotional activities will be reviewed and re-evaluated. Approval for the expenditures must be approved by a Publisher or SVP level executive.· Ceasing engagements with external consultants. Consultants should only be used for those limited instances where a specific expertise which does not reside within our organization is absolutelyrequired.

· A freeze on conference/seminar attendance. Attendance at anyexternal conference must be approved by a Publisher or SVP levelexecutive and is expected to be severely curtailed. At this time, all external training expenses are to be halted.

· Equipment expense and capital purchases will be delayed unless absolutely necessary.

· Limiting the use of mobile devices. All contracts arecurrently under review to ensure the appropriate service level with the objective of limiting data usage and reducing the number of unitsby 20-25%.

· Reducing energy usage. Many companies, including our NetworkTen in Australia have significantly reduced costs by better managingthe use of energy and hydro.

· Use discretion when printing. Whenever possible avoid printing unnecessary copies by reading on your desktop. Colourprinting should be used only when necessary. When printing multiple pages, set printer defaults to double-sided output.

· Subscriptions. Cancel those subscriptions which are not essential.In addition, we are announcing a Voluntary Vacation Leave program. Any employee may make a request for unpaid vacation days between now and August 31st to their manager.

Approval is at management's discretion and based upon impact to the operation. This voluntary program will allow employees to take unpaid days in addition to their allotted paid vacation days for longer holidays or family time. Details of the program will be communicated next week.

We have also decided to suspend a number of our national employee events for this year including the Hockey Tournament, Sun Run,Slo-pitch tournament, Enlightened Leader sessions and Leadership Forum.These critical measures must be taken to weather the current economicclimate we're doing business in.

We appreciate all the efforts that have been taken by everyone during these difficult times. Corporate and Broadcasting are taking similar measures, and in the coming week, your manager will be following up with you to discuss anyfurther cost-control measures specific to your department.

The above list of measures is by no means exhaustive and we are sure there are many other measures that can be implemented to help reduce operating costs. Please feel free to share any additional ideas orthoughts you may have in this regard by e-mail at .

Just think, if every employee could save$1000, the collective savings would amount to 10,000,000! Our overarching goal is to come out of this with stronger businesses that best position us for the future.

Your involvement, support and hard work to maximize our cost savings initiatives are sincerely appreciated.

Dennis Skulsky
President and CEO, Canwest Publishing

Doug Lamb
Executive Vice President &Chief Financial Officer, Canwest Publishing

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RossK said...

Cancelling subscriptions?

Does that include CanWest publications?


North Van's Grumps said...

I have a suggestion. CanWest should eliminate every scrap of their paper edition, thereby going 100% internet green.

Anonymous said...

CanWest should have its reporters start doing some research and reporting the news. Its columnists should start to do some objective analysis and stop relying on feed from the BC Liberals.

Anonymous said...

Can't understand the idea that tough financial times exist in this country. Wasn't it, the famous economist, Steve Harper that said there would be no problem in this country, mind you that was just before the election. Gordo said the same but we are expected to lose 45,000 jobs.

Anonymous said...

Obviously little Lenny has none of Israel H. Asper's financial talents since the old man knew the value of a dollar in hand.

Having known Izzy back in Winnipeg during the early 70s, I'm sure he would be turning over in his grave now seeing how "the kid" screwed the pooch with his money.

I guess the little putz spent too much time suckling the sour tit of monopoly capitalism . . . at the Fraser Institute.

Throw in Fat Dennis of Schulsky and you have a lot of porkers living too high off the hog with other peoples' money.

Maybe they will have to let the Empress Christy of Clark go from CKNW since I hear she is pretty high priced pork too.

That would mean Senator Mark and Prime Minister Christy could both end up doing back to back night-shifts at the Burrard Street-Hyatt McDonalds.


Anonymous said...

I hear there are a lot of jobs going in BC still, and we have nothing to worry about. There are so many jobs, with most paying more than minimum wage! Really, go talk to Gordo, he will reassure you all.

Anonymous said...

Christie and Mark don't want jobs that actually means work (in the true sense of the word). They want jobs that pay six figures for political pap - that is non-productive work while bagging on about the folks that truly ad to the GNP, GDP and are making an honest salary. Sheesh! Does 'parasite' fit here?

Anonymous said...

Is this at all a surprise?

Look at the crap provided by many senior columnists for the Sun. Other than Vaughn, why read on a regular basis at all? Gregory Thomas, yes, good, Baines too, yes, Lee, sometimes, but how much more egomaniacal psychobabble can we take from McKnight? Or uninformed regurgitation of federal Liberal speaking notes by Barbara Daffy? How much froth from McMartin? Who cares what they think, it must be accompanied by a willingness to really write.

Also, CanWest has gutted The Post, which, when it was run by Connie Black, was the best paper ever produced in this country. And, no, not for it's conservative bent, but for it's real and hardnosed reporting of issues.

They have gone completely in the tank for the provincial Liberals, rarely laying a glove on them (NB Skulsky and Gordon are closerthanthis). How do they tell the real story of the Olympics when they are major sponsors. The media do not belong there. Only today in the headline was there a fair analysis of our 6 BILLION dollar bill for the games.

The Sun finally has discovered that we are going deep into debt to pay for Gordon Campbell's pipedream. But polls are released by friends of the Liberals and a former partner of a current Liberal MLA, and they go off on it like it's gospel. No questions of the questions, nothing.

I guess they'll be leaving that to Miro...sure...

Anonymous said...

I jusr hope cutbacks at Canwest do not in any way compromise the quality of their coverage of the Basi Trial.

Anonymous said...

A freeze on all hiring? Does that mean that my hopes of CanWest hiring Margaret Wente to write for the Notional Past will never be realized?

Anonymous said...

If ever there was a time for the Fourth Estate it is now. The snotty comments about pork are silly.
Anon. at Summerland

Anonymous said...

I will buy there newspapers and watch there TV news when they stop lying to the the people and tell us what we need to know, not the crap and lies they print and broadcast.
They choose to lie, I choose not to buy or watch.

Anonymous said...

Sure read like the Sun Run would be suspended.

You'd think one of the prerequisites for being the President and CEO of Canwest Publishing would be the ability to communicate effectively. Mr. Skulsky's memo would seem to prove otherwise.

The Mound of Sound said...

Can you feel the love?

Anonymous said...

Anon. at Summerland said,
The snotty comments about pork are silly.

How do you correlate snot to pork?

NorthVanDan said...

I just bought a New York Times Crossword book. I guess I won't be needing any more CanWest newspapers.

pip said...

Start shopping! Buy stock!

Anonymous said...

According to the leaked letter Canwest is faced with "significant advertising declines". Unfortunately this will likely mean even greater suppression of consumer oriented news reporting in order to avoid offending advertisers like the real estate industry.The performance of the 3 BC dailies in this area is both shocking and shameful.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they should produce newspapers that people actually want to read?

Anonymous said...

I shed no tears for the CanWest/Global empire, they have turned the media into news that fits to their political bent.

No Canadian newspaper will print anything contrary to its own interests and the Vancouver Sun and province are true to this.

As Orwell noted, "Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper." Look at the Sun's 'free pass' to SkyTrain and the RAV/Canada line.

Even Vaughn Palmer is becoming Casper Milquetoastish with his reporting of the Libs. No hard hitting articles like when Glen Clark was premier.

So hasta la vista the Vancouver Sun, you have just become a mediocre footnote and adiĆ³s Channel 11 news, take Baldry out to the setting sun!

Anonymous said...

Not wishing to be combative with the folks who dislike CanWest I remind us all that the best way to know what the dark side is thinking, is to scan their papers. The online editions are pretty easy to run through . In the little town I presently live, there is one newspaper but by paying for it, we get to read a lot of other Canwest papers around the country. Sort of comes in handy when an election looms. Heck we even read the Black chain as well .The Guardian of London, and the New York Times and a few others such as ElJazeera get looked at regularly as well. But to each his or her own. Losing subscriptions from some of the folks who post on this blog won't make CanWest change direction, besides maybe they are having cash flow problems too. Some of the stuff that shows up on The Tyee doesn't turn my crank either. Got to go check a few newspapers outside that never heard of BC

Anonymous said...

There's a conspiracy afoot here. Two weeks ago Sean Holman of Public EyeOnline was asking for donations to become bigger and now CanWest is heading for bankruptcy.

Did Sean see the writing on the wall before the big news media?

Anonymous said...

Have you all noticed the complete lack of coverage of this story in the BC Beautiful Elite Media?

The CanWest Titanic has hit the iceberg and is going down and the captain and entire crew don't even want to comment on it.

This is very similar to CanWest's non-coverage of the Olympic budget mess and certainly of its denial that Basigate even happened.


Bill Tieleman said...

There was a short story in the Province newspaper on Sunday saying a Georgia Straight item online about the Sun Run being cancelled - based on the Canwest memo and my blog - but not mentioned in the Province story - was erroneous.

I also received an email from a Canwest paper saying - why are you telling us about this - don't you think we know?

I replied that I hadn't seen anything written about it!

I agree with the Great Satan - this is a major story that is being ignored by most media, especially the media owned by Canwest.

Anonymous said...

Back in 84 I was in Prague for a few weeks and met a number of interesting people with first hand experience in the handling of media by the Communist Party and its Soviet bosses.

The best comment about the reporting of non-events by Soviet organs was in reference to the two Russian/Soviet official newspapers PRAVDA & ISVESTIA.

Both were widely distributed within the Warsaw Pact nations and were "required" reading, especially for any government workers and the party bosses.

Translated . . . Pravda means "TRUTH" in Russian and Isvestia means "NEWS".

The translated "unofficial" public comment was . . . THERE IS NO NEWS IN ISVESTIA and NO TRUTH IN PRAVDA!

One could certainly apply the TRUTH value of the Vancouver Sun and the NEWS value of the Vancouver Province?

I guess the answer lies with Comrade Leaders . . . Dennis and Lenny.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm, a columnist for 24 Hours throwing stones at Canwest. Glass house anyone?

Anonymous said...

Goodness me, could it be industrial disease?

My guess is that the Sun Province, et al, did not report the initial press release because they were too busy trying to convince head office to resume funding and support for the Sun Run.

Kudos to Bill and Charlie for doing the hard work.
And for telling the public the truth.

Sunday's "clarification" in the Province was a total fabrication and a lame attempt at a cover-up.

Canwest media cannot be trusted.

Bill Tieleman said...

To Anonymous 11:21 - I haven't thrown any stones at all - I've reported what I believe is a very important memo regarding serious cost cutting at Canada's largest newspaper chain.

I have made no comments except that it has yet to be reported by Canwest itself.

I regret when any news organization, including Quebecor, which owns 24 hours, makes cuts that cost people their jobs and/or reduce their ability to report the news.

I have many friends and acquaintances who work for Canwest papers across the country and hope that their jobs remain secure in these difficult economic times, as I do for all news media.

NRF said...

When it comes to Canwest's Vancouver papers, remember the three Rs: Reduce, reuse, recycle. These are listed in declining order of value.

Best option is not to consume the papers. Second best is to reuse the newsprint - wrapping fish heads is good. The last is to recycle so those guys driving trucks that get 5 miles per gallon have something to collect every week when they roar through your neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

who cares why dont they just cancel their whole damn collapsed enterprise. They must of seen it coming ,no news no buy,no buy no sale,who the hell did these guys think they were going to sell their customers advertisements to,yes us the customers that pay their advertisers.So as it seems mr asper you know now who your real bosses where.Maybe you could turn this whole mess around and give us headlines that we deserve,like people have been kept in the dark for to long by our justice system,or why are people in position of power not held accountable.Or don't just cost cut get the fu**k out we already have enough crap to deal with.Do your job if i did shoddy work like you there would be no job get the picture.Bill if i had to pay for a copy of 24 i would ,here is your papers chance please for the love of god go to full paper publishing,and just watch the subscriptions go nuts,its whats needed!here and now do it this blog is not enough!