TVO Announces Plan That Looks to Future

Streamlined Organization, Expanded Focus on Digital Innovation in Children's Media and Current Affairs

TORONTO, Nov. 13, 2012 /CNW/ - TVO, Ontario's public educational media organization, has announced its plan to address changes in its government funding, while further focusing TVO's content strategy on core priorities and allowing the organization to direct more resources to digital innovation in children's educational media and current affairs.

"As a publicly-funded organization, TVO has a responsibility to deliver on its educational mission, with the greatest impact, across multiple platforms," said Lisa de Wilde, Chief Executive Officer.  "To do this we must find cost savings in some areas and direct more resources into others."

According to de Wilde, all media are responding to the changing realities of multi-platform content distribution, new business models and financial constraints. In the March 2012 provincial budget announcement, the Ontario government indicated that TVO, like other public agencies, needs to reduce its reliance on government funding to help reduce the provincial deficit. TVO's plan responds to this fiscal reality and allows the organization to build a sustainable financial model in 2013-14 and beyond.

TVO will reduce current expenses and re-allocate resources into digital innovation in children's media and current affairs, for a net reduction of $2M (five per cent of its provincial operating grant or three per cent of its total budget). The plan involves changes within the organization and 35-40 current employees will leave TVO between now and the end of March 2013. It includes fewer staff dedicated to traditional TV production and new multifunctional roles that leverage the efficiencies of digital technology.

"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," said de Wilde.

Given reduced resources, TVO has made the difficult decision to discontinue three series at the end of the season next spring. This will be the final season for Allan Gregg in Conversation, as well as for the Big Ideas lecture series -- but TVO will continue to present special lectures under its flagship The Agenda with Steve Paikin brand.  This will also be the final season of the long-running Saturday Night at the Movies.

"These are tough decisions but times change and we have to adapt and innovate. 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," said de Wilde. "The choices we've made will direct TVO's resources to the kind of high quality educational content that you can't find anywhere else."

At the same time, TVO is focusing on digital innovation in two priority areas that set the organization apart in the media landscape: by expanding 21st century digital learning resources for kids, parents and teachers; and directing more resources into the growth of The Agenda with Steve Paikin and Civics 101 as a multi-platform hub for civic engagement in the big issues of the day. TVO's commitment to support Ontario's independent producers and to bring audiences the best in factual, science, arts, natural history and history documentaries from around the world remains unchanged.

TVO executives will be meeting with the leaders of its two bargaining units, CEP and CMG, and will by the end of this week present the specifics of the changes and the options available to those affected employees.

"TVO exists to help make the world a better place, by helping every child in Ontario to develop a love of learning and by enabling every citizen to become an informed and engaged citizen. While some of these changes will not be easy, they will position TVO most effectively to deliver on our educational promise to help to make the citizens of Ontario smarter, more aware and more informed in the years ahead," said de Wilde.

About TVO
TVO is Ontario's public educational media organization and a trusted source of interactive educational content that informs, inspires and stimulates curiosity and thought. TVO's vision is to empower people to be engaged citizens of Ontario through educational media. TVO is funded primarily by the Province of Ontario and is a registered charity supported by sponsors and thousands of donors. For more information, visit


Relevant Facts and Figures:

  • TVO's total operating budget for the current fiscal year is $64M
  • TVO's current annual operating grant from the Ontario Ministry of Education is $42M, equivalent to about $3 per Ontarian
  • TVO will raise approximately $22M in self-generated revenues this year (donations, corporate sponsorships, online/digital revenues and fee for service contracts to operate the Province's Independent Learning Centre and Homework Help service)
  • TVO will reduce current expenses and allocate more resources into digital innovation, for a net reduction of $2M  (5% of its operating grant or 3% of its total budget)
  • 35-40 employees will leave the organization by March 31, 2013
  • TVO's employees are represented by two in-house unions, CEP and CMG

TVO's Content Strategy:
TVO is increasing digital innovation in two priority areas that set it apart in the media landscape:

  1. Children's Educational Media: At the intersection of technology and pedagogy, TVO is allocating more resources to 21st century digital learning content for kids, parents and teachers. TVO will expand online resources to Grade 6, develop new tools for educators and multimedia properties including real-world games, mobile and augmented reality.

  2. Current Affairs: TVO is also directing more resources into the growth of The Agenda with Steve Paikin and Civics 101 as a multi-platform hub for current affairs engagement and interactivity. Content will be increasingly defined by online participation and community engagement, with more interactive video events and virtual communities engaged in real-time conversation. Broadcast content will increasingly be driven by discourse that originates online.

Over the next year, TVO will be looking at what specialized skills it needs to bring on to support these strategies. TVO's commitment to support Ontario's independent documentary and children's media producers -- and to bring audiences the best in factual, science, arts, natural history and history documentaries from around the world -- remains unchanged.

Changes to Current Programming
TVO will discontinue three programs to focus resources on priority content areas:

  • After 18 successful years, this will be the final season of Allan Gregg in Conversation.
  • Big Ideas will not return next season as a regularly scheduled, standalone program. TVO plans to present some special lectures as part of The Agenda with Steve Paikin's in-the-community strategy.
  • After 38 years, this will also be the final season of Saturday Night at the Movies. With entire TV networks and on-line services now dedicated to movies, TVO's limited resources will focus on content that is not available anywhere else in the media landscape.

Innovation and Sustainability Strategy

  • TVO's investment in innovation has been key in increasing TVO's impact and public value. Innovation and creativity are key pillars of TVO's strategy moving forward and the organization will continue to focus on developing and testing new products and creating new value.
  • TVO's sustainability depends on its ability to generate revenue. With donations representing its most substantial revenue stream, TVO will continue to grow its base of donors across Ontario, build its leadership giving portfolio and expand corporate sponsorship relationships.
  • TVO will also continue to test new ways to drive revenue growth on digital platforms and collaborate with partners in the private sector to grow self-generated revenues - all in a way that is consistent with its educational mandate.

TVO's impact*:

  • 85% of Ontarians watch TVO.
  • TVO content generated more than 17 million video streams and downloads last year.
  • Recent research conducted by the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education shows that TVOKids digital resources improve literacy and numeracy skills.
  • Ontarians rate TVO the most trusted and most educational media brand for kids in Canada (2011, Ipsos Reid).                    
  • TVOKids offers more Educational Apps than any other Canadian broadcaster.
  • The Agenda with Steve Paikin provides the most in depth analysis of current affairs on Canadian TV.
  • The Agenda ranks #1 with Ontarians for news and current affairs broadcasts in its timeslot. It received 2.2 million downloads/streams or podcasts last year, with the microsite receiving over 1 million page views.
  • TVO triggers $25 Million in production budgets for Ontario independent producers each year, which supports more than 3,000 industry jobs.
  • TVO commissions more original Point-of-View documentaries than any other Canadian broadcaster.  

*Based on 2011-12 fiscal and/or broadcast year data

Where to Find TVO

On air:
Cable channel 2 (may vary in some areas)
Bell TV channel 209
TVO HD on Bell Fibe TV channel 1209
Rogers TVO HD channel 580
Rogers-On-Demand channel 100
Shaw Direct channel 353
BlackBerry App World™




For further information:

Media Contact:
Jill Javet
VP, Communications and Marketing
c. 416.230.6869

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