Canadian Broadcasters Make Sizable Layoffs Ahead of Cable Unbundling

Courtesy of Mary Ann Turcke
Bell Media president Mary Ann Turcke

Bell Media, led by CEO Mary Ann Turcke, and others are clearing the deck before cable subscribers can pick and pay for TV channels they want to view in 2016.

Top-rated Canadian broadcaster Bell Media this week carried out its latest round of job cuts ahead of the country's great cable unbundling, starting in March 2016.

The broadcaster, which delivered 15 of the top 20 shows on Canadian TV last season, including superhero dramas like The Flash, Gotham and Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., this week started cutting another 380 production and on-air journalist jobs, 270 in Toronto and 110 in Montreal.

Newly installed Bell Media president Mary Ann Turcke in a staff memo issued Monday, and obtained by Cartt.ca, said the media group was reacting to a fast-changing media landscape with its latest cost cutting. Turcke wrote "our industry is evolving quickly, and our company must do so as well in order to continue to lead."

Similar job and cost cutting has occurred at rival broadcasters Rogers Media and Shaw Media after the CRTC, the country's TV regulator, ordered cable TV providers to let their customers pick and pay for cable and satellite TV channels after purchasing a basic package capped at $25 a month.

The cross-industry cost cutting is also the latest sign of a broadcast sector feeling the strain of a soft advertising market and cord-cutting as audiences and advertisers increasingly go online to view TV shows, especially on Netflix Canada. The continuing ad slump for free, over-the-air broadcasters has hit hard as networks here have long depended on U.S. network shows for audiences and ad dollars.

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