Radio & Television

Bell Media internal memos attempt to soothe some fears over cuts


Employees finally hear from leadership

By Greg O’Brien

TORONTO – After more than a week of “hearing nothing internally and everything externally,” said one Bell Media employee to Cartt.ca, workers at the big broadcaster finally received something from their boss and their boss’s boss’s boss today.

“It’s about time. We’ve had to hear everything through Cartt and other sources,” another told us. Both talked to us on condition of anonymity since they are not allowed to speak the press. As readers will recall, Bell Media has been cutting staff, beginning with an executive cull on January 5th and continuing through January and this week with more than 210 more cuts.

Our estimate is so far, is over 250 Bell Media positions have been eliminated since January 5, but the company won’t publicly confirm the number.

While CEO Mirko Bibic generally circulates an internal memo to all Bell Canada employees upon release of the company’s quarterly results and did so today (and we’ll highlight the media-related bits below), senior vice-president, content development and news and vice chair, Québec, Karine Moses sent a memo today (entitled “Our commitment to deliver the most compelling content”) addressed to its “English and French content team members” where within it was another memo to the broadcaster’s “valued production partners.”

Other than on January 5th, there has been no company-wide communication from new Bell Media president Wade Oosterman, our sources tell us.

Here is the Moses memo, in full in italics, word for word:

Team,

As leaders in original programming, Bell Media is committed to delivering the most compelling content, including the strongest roster of original Canadian programming, across all our platforms. In that context, I wanted to share with you a letter I sent today to our Canadian production partners reaffirming our focus on delivering the highest-quality programming to our audiences.

As we accelerate our leadership in a quickly evolving Canadian media marketplace, we continue to invest in the very best content from in-house teams, Canadian production partners and U.S. studios. We’re already working with nearly 50 production companies across the country to create more than 800 hours of original content in both French and English for the 2020-2021 broadcast year. And while COVID-19 has caused us to shift some of our schedules, we are working with our partners to ensure a safe return to production.

I’m very proud of the content we create here at Bell Media. Both our in-house teams and our external production partners are the best in the country, and we’re going to build on our track record of creating amazing content for Canadian and international markets.

Thank you everyone for your support as we execute Bell Media’s strategy for continued success. I look forward to working with you as we deliver the most compelling content in Canada.

What followed was her communiqué with Bell Media’s production partners, which says Discovery Canada’s in-house production company, Exploration Production, is now being rolled into Bell Media Studios. It reads:

Dear valued production partners,

I wanted to take a moment to reaffirm Bell Media’s commitment to quality programming and our focus on delivering the most compelling content across every platform in partnership with Canada’s best. We’re dedicated to promoting home-grown talent, both on screen and behind the scenes, here in Canada and internationally, within the country’s best and most diverse portfolio of content.

The outstanding content that we create here in Canada with our production partners will increasingly distinguish us from our competitors. Canada has a wealth of talented writers, actors, producers and other creators, and tapping into those resources is key to the continued success of Bell Media.

As part of our production program moving forward, Discovery Canada’s in-house production company, Exploration Production Inc. (EPI), is consolidating with Bell Media Studios. Led by experienced and respected industry leaders Justin Stockman, Pat DiVittorio, Suzane Landry and Dave Daigle, our teams will work hand in hand with you to build on Bell Media’s track record of top-notch programming in English and French, with a focus on ground-breaking new content and the development of our quality in-house productions.

We look forward to working with you, our industry partners, as we continue to strive for the excellence that our audiences have come to expect from Bell Media.

Karine Moses
Senior Vice President, Content Development & News and Vice Chair, Québec

As for Bell Canada CEO Bibic, he had this to say internally today, word for word, about Bell Media:

We’re seeing steady signs of recovery in Media, although the sector has been hit especially hard by the COVID crisis as advertisers reduced spending across all platforms in 2020. While revenue decreased 10% in Q4 (and 14.5% for all of 2020), a strong fall TV season and more live sports broadcasts contributed to continued revenue improvement.

CTV remains Canada’s #1 television network, TSN continues as the top sports channel in Canada while RDS retains the top spot in Québec, and Crave continues to grow, increasing subscribers 8% over 2019 to 2.8 million.

Noovo, Bell Media’s new TV and digital brand in Québec, increased primetime viewership by 6%, the best result in French-language conventional TV. We’re continuing to invest in Noovo to deliver much-needed choice and competition in Québec media – including the upcoming launch of Noovo Info, a fresh voice in French-language news broadcasting.

These are the kinds of investments we need to make to ensure our continued leadership in a fast-changing media marketplace. With a streamlined operating structure and a commitment to invest in the content and delivery platforms Canadians want the most, Bell Media is well prepared to remain #1 in an evolving media landscape.

Our industry and COVID-19

We've gathered a number of links where Canadian cable, radio, television, telecom and wireless companies have posted their responses to the Covid-19 pandemic.