Unifor says Bell Media has announced the layoff of 27 staff and reclassified another 22 jobs at its Queen Street location in Toronto.
The union told Broadcast Dialogue that details of how the layoffs will “shake out” and whether they will extend to other bureaus is the subject of ongoing talks.
This is the fourth round of layoffs at Bell Media this calendar year after successive restructuring at the executive level and middle management in January, followed by job losses in sales, administration and news, among other positions. In February, newly-named Bell Media President Wade Oosterman signalled to employees in a memo that restructuring had been “completed.”
A Bell Media spokesperson said while the company is not commenting on the specifics of this new round of job cuts, “any changes we make reflect our focus on making Bell Media more responsive to the needs of audiences, advertisers and content creators, including embracing digital technologies that enhance our agility and cost efficiency.” Bell said most of the employees impacted will have the opportunity to apply for redefined roles and other available positions within the company.
Unifor maintains that this latest round of layoffs shows the need to enact legislation that would “level the playing field” as foreign-owned streamers and other digital media companies operate outside existing regulations that apply to traditional broadcasters. The fate of Bill C-10, which would have made amendments to the Broadcast Act – including enacting Canadian content spending obligations and guaranteeing funding for local news – now hangs on the outcome of the federal election.
“The tremendous financial pressure placed on Canadian broadcasters because of Internet giants getting a free ride in this country leads to these kinds of so-called efficiencies,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias, in a statement. “We need legislation to stop this tremendous pressure. The previous Bill C-10 was aimed at levelling the playing field between Canadian broadcasters and behemoth foreign counterparts Netflix, Amazon and others.”
“These layoffs are a result of downsizing and tech change. We’re told no programming will be lost with these cuts, but there’s no way the quality of that programming can be the same and the pressure for more cuts will only continue until action is taken,” added Dias.
Unifor says it’s continuing to meet with Bell Media to mitigate the impact of the job losses on its members.
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