Three radio stations in the Kawarthas are among the 45 stations Bell Media is planning to sell as part of a restructuring decision from its parent company BCE Inc. that also includes cutting jobs across the company as well as programming cuts at CTV and BNN Bloomberg.
Under the plan, Pure Country 105 and MOVE 99.7 in Peterborough and BOUNCE 91.9 in Lindsay would be sold to Oshawa-based Durham Radio.
BCE Inc. president and CEO Mirko Bibic announced in an open letter on Thursday morning (February 8) that 4,800 jobs would be cut across the company. Last spring, BCE Inc. cut six per cent of Bell Media jobs and sold or closed nine radio stations.
“Restructuring decisions are incredibly tough for all of us because it affects the people we work with and care about,” Bibic wrote in the memo. “We know these decisions are hardest on those leaving Bell.”
Bibic stated that Bell Media’s advertising revenues declined by $140 million in 2023 compared with the year before, and the company’s news division is seeing more than $40 million in annual operating losses.
An internal memo sent to Bell Media employees on Thursday morning from Bell Media vice-presidents said weekday noon newscasts at all CTV stations except Toronto would end, as well as 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. weekend newscasts at all CTV and CTV2 stations except Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa.
The evening programs The Debate, This Hour, and Top 3 Tonight on CTV News Channel will be replaced by a four-hour news broadcast on weeknights beginning at 6 p.m. The standalone documentary series W5 would become a “multi-platform investigative reporting unit” featured on CTV National News, CTVNews.ca, and other news platforms. At BNN Bloomberg, weekday daytime programming will be “streamlined” to reduce the number of separate broadcasts.
In a separate internal memo sent to employees, Bell Media president Sean Cohan said the company will sell 45 of its 103 regional radio stations — including 21 in British Columbia, 12 in Ontario, seven in Quebec, and five in Atlantic Canada — to seven buyers: Vista Radio, Whiteoaks, Durham Radio, My Broadcasting Corp., ZoomerMedia, Arsenal Media, and Maritime Broadcasting.
Under the sales, which are subject to CRTC approval and other closing conditions, Durham Radio would purchase Pure Country 105 (CKQM) and MOVE 99.7 (CKPT) in Peterborough and BOUNCE 91.9 (CKLY) in Lindsay. Based in Oshawa, Durham Radio currently operates six radio stations and their associated repeaters in Oshawa, Ajax, Toronto, Grimsby, Sunderland, Hamilton, and Grimsby.
In an interview with The Canadian Press, Bell chief legal and regulatory officer Robert Malcolmson said radio “is a business that is going in the wrong direction” and is “not a viable business anymore.” He said Bell Media is undergoing a “digital transformation” for both entertainment and news, and blamed both the federal government and the CRTC for their response to the crisis affecting Canadian media.
That includes Bill C-18 (the Online News Act), intended to force Google and Facebook’s parent company Meta to compensate Canadian news outlets for linking to their content, and Bill C-11, which updates the Broadcasting Act to require digital platforms such as Netflix, YouTube, and TikTok to contribute and promote Canadian content.
While Meta continues to block news for Canadians on Facebook and Instagram, Google has agreed to pay $100 million in annual compensation to Canadian media companies. However, the amount is capped at $30 million for broadcasters, with the remainder going to print media and digital media companies.