Latest NewsBell Media lays off six per cent of workforce, shutters AM radio...

Bell Media lays off six per cent of workforce, shutters AM radio stations

Bell Media is making another round of sweeping layoffs, amounting to 1,300 positions or six per cent of its workforce, and has abruptly shuttered six of its AM radio stations.

NewsTalk 1290 CJBK London, TSN 1260 (CFRN-AM) Edmonton, BNN Bloomberg Radio 1410 (CFTE-AM) Vancouver, Funny 1040 (CKST-AM) Vancouver, Funny 1290 (CFRW-AM) Winnipeg, and Funny 1060 (CKMX-FM) Calgary were off the air as of 11 a.m. ET Wednesday.

Station websites showed 404 errors or had notices posted, informing listeners that “The Realities of AM Radio in the broadcast media landscape have made this change unavoidable.”

Pending CRTC approval, Bell will also sell AM 1150 (CKOC-AM) Hamilton and Funny 820 (CHAM-AM) Hamilton, as well as Windsor’s AM 580 (CKWW-AM) to a third party.

In an open letter to Bell team members, BCE President & CEO Mirko Bibic said where possible, vacant positions will be eliminated to minimize the impact of the layoffs.

“These roles are largely in management, which will see a reduction of 6%. And there will be 20% fewer executive roles in the company than in 2020. The job reductions are consistent with but smaller than similar reductions announced by other leading technology and media companies across North America in recent months,” wrote Bibic.

Industry ‘unforgiving to those who don’t adapt’

Bibic cites profit losses of as much as 50% in the company’s radio business pre- to post-pandemic, along with declines in legacy phone revenues.

Mirko Bibic

“Over our 143-year history, one of the things that has set Bell apart is our ability to reinvent ourselves when faced with challenge, technological evolution and change,” wrote Bibic. “Our industry, like other highly competitive industries, is unforgiving to those who don’t adapt. At Bell Canada, every year we can expect to lose over $250 million in legacy phone revenues. Across Bell Media’s news operations, despite being Canada’s news leader, we incur $40 million and growing in annual operating losses, and the profitability of our radio business has been cut in half since the onset of COVID. These are three examples, but they show that to succeed in today’s challenging economic, regulatory and competitive environment and be ready for what comes next, we need to accelerate our shift away from how telecom and media companies have operated in the past.”

Bibic said going forward, Bell will align its cost structures to the revenue potential of each business segment it operates in.

In a follow-up memo, Bell Media President and BCE Vice-Chair Wade Oosterman echoed the necessity for the company to adapt to significant changes in audience behaviour.

“This disruption is caused by the ongoing migration of advertising revenue to foreign digital platforms, and a continuously declining BDU subscriber base as consumption shifts to OTT platforms. Creating and obtaining the content audiences want has never been more important, but it also has never been more expensive. We are also faced with strong economic and inflationary pressures, a pullback in advertisers’ budgets, and a challenging regulatory environment that has been too slow to adjust,” said Oosterman.

CTV News changes

The layoffs also impact CTV News, which is undertaking changes to how the network delivers news “more aligned to how today’s audiences want to consume it.”

CTV will expand its coverage of Canada and Canadian news, with the National News team having a dedicated presence in four new provinces. Videographers have been added immediately in St. John’s, NL and Regina, SK, with others to come later this year in Fredericton, NB and Charlottetown, PEI.

“These additions will put CTV National News journalists in every province for the first time ever, better positioning us to provide more comprehensive, cross-country news coverage while at the same time allowing our Local News teams to focus more on their respective communities,” wrote VP of News Richard Gray, in a note to staff. “We are also shifting the way we cover news from outside Canada. Going forward we will be providing international news coverage from a more unique and distinctly Canadian perspective.”

Foreign Bureaus in London and Los Angeles will close, with all positions eliminated. The Washington Bureau will also be scaled back with a renewed focus on important news from the U.S. and how it impacts Canada. Gray said the network will continue to cover major global stories on-location as needed.

Senior news leadership changes see Executive Producer Rosa Hwang depart CTV National News effective immediately. David Hughes, Ramneek Gill, Sophia Skopelitis and Jonathan Kay will expand their oversight within the news division as the organization shifts from what Gray termed a “vertical” to “horizontal” management structure.

Joanne Woo has been appointed News Director, CTV News Channel/Manager, Ottawa News Operations, while Corey Bellamy assumes the role of Director, Digital Growth, rejoining CTV News from Bell’s corporate digital product group.

“These changes will provide additional support for the key strategic initiatives introduced recently at Team Meetings: Restructure Workflow and Editorial, Engage and Mobilize, and Grow Audience,” wrote Gray.

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Connie Thiessen
Connie Thiessen
Connie has worked coast-to-coast as a reporter, editor, anchor and host at CKNW and News 1130 in Vancouver, News 95.7 and CBC in Halifax, and CFCW Edmonton, among other stations. With a passion for music, film and community service, she led News 95.7 to a 2013 Atlantic Journalism Award and regional RTDNA award for Best Radio Newscast. More recently, she was nominated for Music Journalist of the Year at Canadian Music Week 2019. To report a typo or error please email -

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