Thursday, February 22, 2024

Bell to sell 45 radio stations, 4,800 employees facing layoffs

First Published:

Bell Canada says it’s cutting nine per cent of its workforce and selling nearly half of its regional radio stations across Canada.

In an open letter signed by the company’s CEO, Mirko Bibic says jobs will be lost at all levels of the company as it undergoes restructuring.

Bibic said the decision comes following a turbulent economy, strict government and regulatory decisions which undermine investment in the network and fail to level the play field with global tech giants.

“Of particular concern is a recent decision by the CRTC forcing Bell to provide third party resellers access to our high-speed fibre network before we have even had an opportunity to recoup our multi-billion dollar investment. As I’ve shared before, at Bell Canada every year we can expect to lose over $250 million in legacy phone revenues,” he wrote.

READ MORE: CBC/Radio-Canada cutting 600 jobs due to budget shortfall

Bibic said the company’s advertising revenue shed by $140 million in 2023 when compared to 2022, and the company’s news operations incur $40 million in losses annually, “despite having the most-watched network of local TV stations.”

Today’s announcement marks the second major layoff at the telecom giant since last spring when six per cent of jobs were eliminated.

Twelve radio stations on the list of stations being divested are in Ontario, including Bounce in Hamilton, Hits FM in Niagara and Newstalk 610 in Niagara.

There is no word yet on what happens to those stations if the sale is blocked.
“Once these transactions close, it’s our intention that the divested stations will remain part of iHeartRadio Canada, helping to transform Bell Media’s radio operation to an innovative audio business,” read a statement from Bell’s latest quarterly report.

Bell said more cuts may be coming, depending on how talks go with the CRTC regarding the rates smaller internet competitors pay the major carriers for network access.

The full letter can be read here.

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