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The cost-cutting at top-rated Canadian broadcaster Bell Media has quickened with the loss of another 210 jobs.
In early January, Toronto-based Bell Media cut around 20 top management jobs to restructure its executive suite. As it continues reducing operating costs while Canada’s ad-supported cable TV market shrinks amid cord-cutting and the dominance of U.S. streaming services, Bell Media is now handing out pink slips to local radio and TV station employees.
“As the media industry evolves, we’re focused on investment in new content and technology opportunities while also ensuring our company is as agile, efficient and easy to work with as possible,” Marc Choma, director of communications at Bell Media, said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter about his company’s latest streamlining.
“That includes programming changes affecting some on-air positions, but I think it’s pretty clear by now that our policy is not to comment on individual employees,” he added.
Last month, Randy Lennox, who joined Bell Media in 2015 to oversee the phone giant’s TV, radio and digital assets, stepped down and was replaced as president by Wade Oosterman, vice chair of Bell Canada, the country’s largest telco player. Oosterman is restructuring Bell Media as the broadcaster follows its North American peers with an accelerated pivot to the streaming space with Crave, the company’s streaming platform.
As the digital age allows U.S. studio dramas and comedies that traditionally came to Canadians via local pay TV providers to now be streamed into homes via the Internet, Bell Media is betting its future profits will come more from channel subscriptions than advertising. So the cuts to local TV news gathering and operations includes eliminating field camera operators and other key positions, which has sparked opposition from Unifor, a union for Canadian media workers.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, Canadians have seen how important a strong media sector is to their continued health and safety. These cuts go against the assurances made by the broadcasters last summer to the CRTC to stand by local news,” Unifor national president Jerry Dias said in a statement.
The latest Bell Media job cuts include about 100 unionized Unifor members in Toronto. The broadcaster also eliminated all newsroom staff at its Montreal radio station CJAD.
Bell Media in recent years has relied on costly deals to put premium U.S. TV brands like HBO, Showtime and Starz under Bell Media’s content umbrella via exclusive output deals. But the Canadian broadcaster has seen its domestic market share shrink as Netflix, Amazon Prime and other U.S. streaming platforms make inroads into the Canadian market, while also being hit by an advertising recession amid the pandemic.
Bell Media also runs Canada’s CTV network and a stable of cable channels, besides the Crave TV streaming service.
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