Bell Media’s 200+ job cuts go against commitment to local news, says Unifor

Unifor, the union representing some Bell Media employees, has confirmed reports that as many as 210 employees will lose their jobs in ongoing restructuring this week.

About 100 of those employees are unionized television staff in Toronto, with Unifor saying there are more positions impacted outside the city, “affecting all station operations, including news gathering.”

The third round of layoffs in the media division within the last month, the job losses started to mount yesterday with word that the CJAD 800 Montreal newsroom had lost three reporters in addition to the cancellation of its evening talk shows. As of Tuesday, the heritage station’s newscasts had been rebranded under the CTV banner and featured the voices of local CTV Montreal reporters like videojournalist Gabrielle Fahmy.

Barb DiGiulio

Those cuts extended to on-air staff at Toronto sister station Newstalk 1010 (CFRB-AM) on Tuesday, including reporters Lucas Meyer and Hayley Cooper; anchor Claude Feig; The Night Side host Barb DiGiulio; and David McKee, who was recognized with the Canadian Radio Award for Best News Anchor in December for his nightly “News and Views” 6 p.m. newscast.

Other radio hosts caught up in the layoffs include Virgin Radio (CFCA-FM) Kitchener host Cash Conners, 580 CFRA weekend morning host Dahlia Kurtz, and Pure Country 93 (CJBX-FM) London announcer Lynzee Barnett.

Among those departing on the television side are Robin Johnston, Director, Original Programming, Factual and Reality, who had helped develop Canada’s Drag Race for Crave, The Amazing Race Canada and MasterChef Canada for CTV, and Engraved on a Nation for TSN, and Tom Hastings, Director, Original Programming, Drama. CTV Your Morning Managing Show Writer Steve McCann, CTV Your Morning Ottawa host Jasmin Ibrahim, CTV Toronto Associate Assignment Editor Ivy Mak, and CTV Victoria anchor Alanna Kelly are also casualties.

Sales, Administration and Communications staff are also impacted including Kim Katayama, who held the role of National Sales Coordinator – Radio, based in Vancouver; and Rick Henriques, Communications Coordinator, Specialty Entertainment Channels.

Mark Choma, Bell’s Director of Communications, chalked up the latest round of layoffs to ongoing streamlining of the company’s operating structure.

“There are further changes in roles, including some departures, reflecting Bell Media’s streamlined operating structure,” said Choma, in an email to Broadcast Dialogue. “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. 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.”

Cuts go against commitment to local news: Dias

Jerry Dias, Unifor National President, said the layoffs are costing the network valued media workers when they’re needed most and go against assurances private broadcasters gave to the CRTC last summer when they asked for relief from Canadian content obligations.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, Canadians have seen how important a strong media sector is to their continued health and safety,” Dias said in a release. “Despite their commitment to save local news, they’re not protecting newsrooms.”

“Our democracy, our right to be informed and to push back against the tide of false information relies on a strong media sector,” added Unifor Media Director Howard Law. “Bell Media had said that news gathering is sacred, but that doesn’t appear to be the case when cuts are made in news gathering.”

The union said it’s continuing to monitor the situation.


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