Bell Media has announced that 45 of its 103 regional radio stations, as well as multiple television newscasts, will be ending as parent company BCE Inc. issues widespread layoffs, the Canadian Press reports. Nine percent of staff — or 4,800 jobs — "at all levels of the company" are being cut, although fewer than 10 percent of the total job cuts will be at Bell Media specifically.
In an internal memo, Bell Media president Sean Cohan said the company intends, pending CRTC approval and other closing conditions, to divest the 45 radio stations to seven buyers: Vista Radio, Whiteoaks, Durham Radio, My Broadcasting Corp., ZoomerMedia, Arsenal Media and Maritime Broadcasting.
"That's a significant divestiture. It's because it's not a viable business anymore," Robert Malcolmson, Bell's chief legal and regulatory officer, told the Canadian Press. "We will continue to operate ones that are viable, but this is a business that is going in the wrong direction."
In addition to radio stations being sold in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada, another internal memo sent to Bell Media employees today said that news stations like CTV and BNN Bloomberg will be affected immediately. Weekday noon newscasts on all CTV stations beyond Toronto will be scrapped, alongside 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. weekend newscasts on all CTV and CTV2 stations except Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa.
Dave Daigle, vice-president of local TV, radio and Bell Media Studios, and Richard Gray, vice-president of news at Bell Media, said that "multi-skilled journalists" would replace news correspondent and technician teams reporting via CTV National News in Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec and Atlantic Canada, with other correspondent changes to be made in Ottawa.
Some employees have already been notified of being laid off, while the rest of the impacted staffers will find out going into spring. Chief Executive Mirko Bibic wrote in an open letter that the company will use natural attrition and vacancies to minimize layoffs as much as possible.
This marks the second major round of layoffs by the telecommunications giant since last spring, when six percent of Bell Media jobs were eliminated, and nine radio stations were either sold or shuttered. Warner Music Group is also currently undergoing layoffs, with media staff being disproportionately affected.