Bell Canada, a prominent Canadian media and telecom firm, is undergoing significant changes to adapt to evolving market conditions.
BCE Inc., the parent company of Bell Canada, has confirmed that the company will eliminate 1,300 jobs, equating to approximately 3% of its workforce. Alongside this, it is closing six radio stations and divesting three others as it grapples with declining revenues in its legacy phone and news businesses.
Mirko Bibic, president and CEO of Bell Canada, acknowledged the challenging economic, regulatory and competitive landscape in an open letter. Bibic emphasized the need to depart from traditional operational models in the telecommunications and media sectors to thrive in the future. He revealed that Bell Canada expects to suffer an annual loss of over $250 million in legacy phone revenues and $40 million in operating losses from its news operations.
The job cuts primarily affect management roles and add to the already substantial layoffs in the media industry. This sector has been heavily impacted by the ongoing transition from cable TV to streaming services.
As a result, Bell Canada plans to reduce management positions by 6% and decrease the number of executive roles by 20% compared to 2020.
Restructuring to Streamline Operations
As part of its restructuring efforts, Bell Canada is shuttering several radio stations, including Funny 1290 in Winnipeg, Funny 1060 in Calgary, TSN 1260 Radio in Edmonton, BNN Bloomberg Radio 1410 in Vancouver, Funny 1040 in Vancouver and NewsTalk 1290 in London.
Additionally, Bell Media plans to sell AM Radio 1150 and AM 820 in Hamilton, as well as AM 580 in Windsor, to an undisclosed third party, pending approval from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
Robert Malcolmson, executive vice president and chief legal and regulatory officer at Bell, emphasized the need for consolidated news production. By implementing a horizontal structure, the company aims to establish a unified platform managed by a single team that serves news content to relevant outlets. This approach allows Bell to align its media brands more efficiently and effectively.
In an effort to streamline operations, the company will also close down the CTV television network's bureaus in London and Los Angeles and scale back its presence in Washington.
The decision to restructure and downsize has drawn attention and concern from various stakeholders. Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland expressed disappointment over the closure of CTV's bureaus, highlighting the loss of experienced and talented journalists who have become trusted sources of information for Canadians.