May 19, 2024

The Queens County Citizen

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Bell's big boss has defended 4,800 job cuts

Bell's big boss has defended 4,800 job cuts

Bell Canada ( BCE ) president and CEO Mirko Bibik was heavily criticized by federal MPs on Thursday as he tried his best to protect the layoffs of 4,800 employees in February.

Questioned at length by elected officials sitting on the Standing Committee on Heritage, Mr. Bibic, in particular, justified his decision by arguing that the CTV channel lost $180 million last year.

A difficult economic context and competition from American digital giants — which are not subject to the same rules as Canadian media, especially in terms of content — explain Bell Media's setbacks.

“We need to force web platforms to cooperate. The federal government should invest in traditional Canadian media,” argues Mirko Bibik, so the company has already received hundreds of millions from the government.

Despite the cuts, the leader assured Bell would do his best to inform Canadians. “The main objective is to serve the audience and consumers. This is what we do. We are producing more news than the regulatory minimums imposed by the CRTC,” argued the CEO.

A bad quarter of an hour

The explanations did little to impress elected officials, who criticized the manager's evasive answers or questioned the payment of millions of dollars in bonuses to senior BCE executives, including $2.96 million for Mr. Bibik.

In February, Bell shook up an already weak Canadian media environment by announcing 4,800 layoffs across the company, including the sale of 45 radio stations, including 10% of its Bell Media subsidiary. These job cuts are in addition to the 1,300 scheduled for June 2023.

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The announcement sent the federal government into a frenzy, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau going so far as to call the decision a “rotten decision” (“crap decision”, in English).

Canadian media is facing troubled times. In addition to Bell, several other players, including Groupe TVA and Postmedia, were forced to announce major cuts, while the “Metro” newspaper closed entirely last summer.

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