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Bell Media Quietly Cuts Nearly 50 TV Jobs, Unions Says CRTC Also to Blame

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On the weekend Unifor, the union representing on-air and broadcasting technicians at 17 local CTV stations across the country criticized Bell for its latest round of job cuts, estimated at 50.

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Now, a Bell spokesperson has confirmed job cuts took place, but did not specify any numbers, reports The Globe and Mail, saying “an unspecified number of employees were told last week their jobs would end due to a reorganization designed in part to address declines in advertising revenue.”

Spokesperson Matthew Garrow also told the Globe they were “phasing out” certain sportscasts and high-profile anchors due to “evolving viewer behaviour,” without mentioning any specific names.

“This latest round of layoffs isn’t just Bell Media’s penny-pinching, this one has been directly caused by the CRTC,” said Unifor Media Council Chair Jake Moore in a weekend statement.

“We warned the CRTC that tough licencing conditions would be required if big media companies were granted five-year licences for local news. They didn’t listen,” added Moore.

Remaining CTV local sports broadcasts will be eliminated by these job cuts, which includes flagship CFTO in Toronto, with its local sports broadcast to end on December 27. Other CTV stations including those in Edmonton, Calgary and Montreal have already seen gone off air.

Unifor also says at least 15 TV and radio stations have been affected by these job cuts as well, affecting both on-air and technical staff, including:

  • Ottawa CTV 2 hosts Melissa Lamb and Lianne Laing
  • BNN host Michael Kane
  • CFTO Sportscasters Joe Tilley and Lance Brown
  • C-FAX (Victoria) veteran talk show host Pamela McCall

Some listeners of C-FAX 1070 in Victoria have been frustrated as McCall’s talk show quietly vanished off air and the radio station’s website:

Puget Sound Radio reports five CTV Vancouver Island broadcasters were fired in Victoria, while 10 CTV Vancouver staff were laid off by Bell.

Unifor Media Director Howard Law said “These huge media companies were allowed by the CRTC to grow big and eat up smaller companies with the expectation that they would maintain a high level of local news coverage,” continuing to add “This was supposed to end happily for local news, and it has not.”

Earlier this year, Bell Media also cut an unspecified number of jobs in Windsor, London and Kitchener.

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  • Bill___A

    I don’t think I would blame the CRTC. It seems there is continual complaining about the super bowl. If so many jobs depended upon one football game, that’s sad. As far as the other losses, it is regrettable. When I turn on the TV and see considerably more ads, including the same ads over and over again, and including ads that pollute the screen, I am much less inclined to watch. I”m also not pleased that the local TV stations get money from the cable company. It used to be that stations broadcast over the air were carried without adding to the cable bill. They’ve done this to themselves, and if they don’t figure out some different thing to do about it soon, they aren’t going to be around any more. The stations just don’t seem to be as much a part of the community as they once were.

  • Joe

    Ads in general just need to go. I personally have stopped watching all forms of advertisement. When it comes to sports, I use the PVR. For everything else including news, I read using my browser with ad-blocker.

    For YouTube, I hit the mute button and switch tabs to let the ad play first, then come back and rewind to the beginning.

    If the economy doesn’t work without ads… well, I guess you need to ask yourself what type of what you want to live in.

  • It’s Me

    Not sure this has anything to do with the Super Bowl.

    We used to have small local stations around the country, usually as affiliates to CTV or maybe global too. When the big media media companies, like Bell and Rogers cams sniffing around to snap up all of these small stations, CRTC allowed it even though they were warned it would destroy local stations. They were warned that these media giants would just treat the local stations as small satellite stations that simply with less and less local staff, news people and eventually coverage. Regions outside of large metro areas would suffer by effectively losing their local stations for all intents and purposes.

    You say the stations don’t seem to be a part of the community anymore and you are exactly right. Nothing to do with ads. But because CRTC ignores warnings that this would happen if and when bell was allowed to embrace, extended and extinguish their small, local competition.

  • erth

    ever time i watch sports in canada (which is not often), the same 3 commercials are playing over and over again. this is pathetic. i live close to the largest capitalist country in the world and my antennae allows me to watch without the crtc poking its nose in my house. when i watch sports in the usa, i get artistic, funny and relative commercials. it is enjoying to watch a sports game and these commercials (at first). then, i realize that they are just as annoying after awhile as the canadian crappy commercials. i have to ask the question, are the people creating these commercials in canada doing the best they possibly can, or is this pathetic act of media forced upon them from the businesses? i think they need to take a night school course or something.

  • Brian

    Joe: Without advertising you have no t.v., unless you want to pay huge amounts to watch commercial free. Like, hundreds $$$/month. You’d have no radio, no magazines or newspapers, and online news would soon go as well. Advertising drives the industry.

  • Dingleberry

    Really? Every time I’m on an American channel it’s always commercials about Drugs or Mesothelioma.

  • Brenda

    I don’t watch sports (except in person) so that’s a non-issue for me. It’s not good when people lose their jobs though. We need to start thinking about viable alternatives (blogs? podcasts?) to local news instead of blaming the CRTC. I’m not particularly anti union but have always found them to be out of touch with changes happening around them.

    I’ve actually watched some ads on YouTube because I find them entertaining. On TV it was always the same as repeating over and over during the same broadcast. CBC is probably the worst, so I was annoyed to find them doing this with their new streaming app. But I just had to watch The Loch so I put up with them. Still, I wonder why the ads on British TV (ITV and Channel 4) are less frequent. Is it because of a larger population hence they can charge advertisers more, or is it something else?

  • Brenda

    I agree.

  • Brenda

    Years ago when private satellite dishes were still illegal in Canada, some businessmen in a small town where I lived set up a satellite dish and broadcast programs that anyone in the surrounding area could pick up. It was set up as a nonprofit. This was welcome in an area where almost one third of the population lived out of town and out of reach of cable. Prior to that we’d had only a single, pitiful, local station from another nearby town. For the first few weeks, many of us entertainment-starved citizens didn’t get much sleep

    One thing they also did was film and broadcast a local rodeo. Finally, we had our own sportcast.

    Needless to say it was a success, until the local cable company complained. That was in spite of the fact they had no intention of running cable to these out of town areas. And the government had to crack down because some of the most popular channels they were broadcasting (HBO, CNN, MTV) were from the US. But it was fun while it lasted.

  • Tim

    or ambulance chasers, addiction recovery centres, and more ambulance chasers.

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