Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Canadian Radio: The Cuts Keep Coming At Bell Media

A week after gutting the newsrooms at Toronto’s Newstalk CFRB 1010 and Montreal’s CJAD 800 AM radio, the company pulled the plug on Hamilton’s TSN 1150, Vancouver’s TSN 1040 and Winnipeg’s TSN 1290.

The Star reports the Hamilton station will now air business news from the Bell Media-owned BNN Bloomberg radio network. According to an email from Bell Media president Wade Oosterman to network staff, the Vancouver and Winnipeg stations will be transitioned to an all-comedy format.

“There’s never a right time to make these kinds of changes, other than when they’re required for the stability and growth of the business and the benefit of our broader team nationwide,” wrote Oosterman, who referred to the changes as “a great example of our strategy in action.”

A senior official at the Unifor union blasted the company for cutting the jobs after taking money from the federal government’s COVID-related Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program.

Last week, Bell Media’s parent company Bell Canada Enterprises reported fourth quarter profit rose to $889 million, up from $672 million the previous year. The company also boosted its quarterly dividend to quarterly dividend of 87.5 cents per share, up from 83.25 cents per share.

BCE collected $122 million from CEWS. Oosterman’s note said the company took the payments because of a collapse in revenue partly due to COVID.

Staff members at two of the affected stations said they received little advance notice of the cuts, and had been preparing to go into work as usual.

Former CFL kicker Troy Westwood, who had been a co-host of the Winnipeg station’s afternoon show, tweeted out thanks to his now-former colleagues.

“Much love and respect to the entire TSN1290 team and all involved with the Bell Winnipeg team. We had a lot of fun. Doors close, doors open. Thank you to all of our listeners. It has been a pleasure to debate and discuss the teams and sports we so dearly love,” Westwood wrote.

In his email, Oosterman said the Vancouver and Winnipeg stations would be featuring a lineup of all standup comedy.

“Later this week, we’ll also transition TSN radio stations in Winnipeg and Vancouver to our Funny format, which has already proven highly successful in markets like Hamilton and Calgary,” Oosterman wrote.

Last week, Bell Media eliminated more than 200 jobs across the country, including at Newstalk 1010 and CJAD, which had both once been among the country’s most prominent newsgathering operations.

Since taking over as president of Bell Media on Jan. 4 following the departure of Randy Lennox, Oosterman has also heavily trimmed the company’s executive ranks.

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