Deep and wide.
The cuts by Bell Media this week were definitely that. Not just in sports media, but media, in general, contributed bigly to the ever-growing number of unemployed during the pandemic.
From coast to coast there was decimation. Entire newsrooms gutted as behemoth media companies utilized a once in a 100-year worldwide catastrophe to try to evolve their tired businesses.
In Montreal, the entire CJAD newsroom was gutted.
“The changes reflect Bell Media’s streamlined operating structure and our focus on making it easier and more efficient to do business with us at every level,”
Down the 401 in Toronto, the same story as CFRB staffers suffered the same fate.
Like wildfire moving from east to west the news was consistent, cut after cut in small towns and big cities.
Then the changes landed at TSN via Bell’s Agincourt operation. On-air folks that all of us have watched over the year dismissed.
Let’s be clear before this most recent cutting at Rogers and Bell changes in the landscape were overdue. Prior to the pandemic, it was clear that the business of producing media had to evolve. The change was inevitable.
In my career in technology, I have to do the same and in many ways, I liken it to the awful experience I once had building a house. The crew that dug the foundation was not the same crew that poured the concrete, did the framing, or the finish work.
Different people have different skillsets and the tools, skills, and technology required are constantly evolving. Furthermore, this pandemic did happen and customer behavior changed dramatically and at a pace never seen before. In my world, retail technology and sales, e-commerce advanced 5-10 years in the past 9 months. Features, functionality that was on roadmaps for years down the road have become table stakes. Change is not only inevitable it brings opportunity and in the end, but it will also be more tailored to all of us.
There is no good way to fire someone.
Other than someone’s health there is nothing more personal than their work.
How the companies, especially Bell have handled the changes is regrettable, and I think I am being kind in my description.
The best leaders have not only exceptional business sense but also a high EQ.
Communication is key.
By all accounts, the new regime at Bell Media has decided against that.
From almost every employee I’ve heard from (and it’s been a very good week for T-mobile) the only common complaint is how tone-deaf and muted things have been.
Bell Let’s talk was wildly successful.
“The campaign yesterday across talk, text, and social media generated 159,173,435 interactions, an increase of 3.1% compared to last year. The donation total was $7,958,671.75, up $239,300.50 compared to 2020.”
@electricellieashton #bellletstalk is such a joke. #mentalhealthmatters #mentalhealth #letstalk #letsactuallytalk
What sucks, is that many people opened up their personal lives in support of Let’s Talk, which I can only imagine is not easy for them to do, and here the entire initiative is getting the crap kicked out of it due to corporate “tone-deafedness”.
It’s hard for me to believe someone didn’t raise their hand and say, perhaps the timing of this isn’t right.
Clearly, the scale is different, but it’s akin to when Vladdy didn’t play at home on Canada Day. How do corporations not know how to behave better when it’s really so simple.
Bell throwing out to employees last night their upcoming investment and past success:
unprecedented spending of $1-1.2 BIL over the next two years to boost, fibre and 5G networks.
Or how they ‘generated $3.35 billion in free cash flow’ and achieved 96% of 2019 revenue in 2020.
I wonder if those numbers include the labor subsidy they helped themselves to:
“Along with several other big telecom companies in 2020, Bell availed itself of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, a federal program that covers a portion of employees’ salaries in order to keep those workers from being laid off. The company also raised quarterly dividends throughout the year and is expected to again increase its fourth-quarter payout.”
Timing, they say is everything.
Oh, and by the way….
“Independent news site downUP uncovered those numbers, including the $122 million Bell received, as well as at least $82 million by Rogers and $38.5 million for Telus. Bell’s $122 million is more than any company on the Post’s list, topping Imperial Oil’s $120 million. (Disclosure: TekSavvy has not received any CEWS subsidies.)”
those two clips from here.
So, it seems that now, as of Friday it’s relatively quiet and hopefully done until the next round.
Multiple sources have told me that Bell is touting a piece of technology, ironically called OverDrive in an attempt to reduce the number of heads required to produce live tv shows. If this technology does what Bell has been promised it can do, in another 16 weeks, we could see a further reduction in production headcount.
Here is what concerns me. Typically, executives brought in to execute headcount reductions are only proficient at doing just that. So if this is the case here, what hope we do have for the ship to be righted moving forward? I am not throwing anyone under the bus, I don’t know what they are capable of. However, henchpeople are typically really good cutters and not great managers or builders.
From the sports side of things, the landscape has changed.
First Tim and Sid got split up, and I am led to believe there will be more changes on the Sportnet side of things.
Now Jay and Dan are split up too. I have to admit the Twitter episode of the past summer played some role in the change.
How they picked Natasha Staniszewski out of all the desk people thus far is a mystery to me. Same with Brent Wallace. As with Kristin Jack. Why producer Tim was identified is not well known either. I am not making light of it, but those on the “talent” side let go were much fewer than I was led to believe were going to be cut a few weeks ago. Many of the names I had heard were spared. For now, I would have to think.
What were your thoughts on the cuts and resulting moves? Anything you are looking forward to?
Back to CFRB btw, many of you know some of the folks cut there too,so while they are no longer in sports I thought I’d specifically identify them here too:
“Among the staffers confirming their exits on TWITTER were CFRB and Hot AC CHUM-F News Dir. KYM GEDDES, who told a tweeter asking for a restoration of the 6p (ET) news that, “I’m no longer with the station”; SATURDAY midday host and station veteran TED WOLOSHYN, who wrote, “Due to BELL MEDIA restructuring I and many colleagues have lost our jobs”; “NIGHTSIDE” host BARB DIGIULIO, who confirmed that she is “no longer with @NEWSTALK1010”; and reporter/anchors HAYLEY COOPER (“I was part of yesterday’s layoffs”), LUCAS MEYER (“No regrets. Thank you all. -30-“), and CLAUDE FEIG (“I was one of the many radio and TV people let go in #Toronto”). A report in BROADCAST DIALOGUE adds host JIM RICHARDS and news anchor DAVID MCKEE to the layoff list, as well as VANCOUVER-based BELL MEDIA National Sales Coordinator — Radio KIM KATAYAMA.”
A couple of other things…
The Yes Guy Show on TSN radio reached episode 10 last week. Perry and Jim are vets with good experience and a good stable of guests. It’s worth streaming if that’s your cup of tea.
Similarly, Barry Davis and his crew are inviting their insiders to take part in the Zoom chats they do with players:
This is what #OuttaThePark is all about!
Connecting #bluejays fans with their favourite players.
Check out @biaginger with Joe Biagini from next Sunday’s show.
Become and insider now and join in on our next zoom . https://t.co/K57jTtV5Cm. pic.twitter.com/p0aNiX16DQ
— Barry Davis (@BarryDavis_) February 1, 2021
It sounds like the Jim Hughson strictly doing Vancouver Canucks home games on HNIC thing will continue.
Many of you are asking why Rick Ball, who does Flames games, is not getting a bigger stage? I have not heard his work, your thoughts?
The MLBPA rejected the league’s proposal to delay spring training. As a result, spring training is upon us. I suspect there is still some dust to settle as it relates to Blue Jays broadcasts on radio and tv. If you could name the dream tv and radio press boxes, who you got doing what?
Finally, I had the good fortune of speaking with long time writer Rob Longley. Longley has covered the Toronto Maple Leafs, the NFL, and now the Toronto Blue Jays and Major League Baseball. Rob has a unique perspective on media both from a longevity perspective and from someone now covering the Jays. Topics include: Whether Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins deserve a pass on the first few years of their stint with the Jays, why they may have been unprepared for the market when they joined, Richard Griffin as a beat reporter vs. now as a PR guy with the team, John Gibbons, the Blue Jays offseason, where the Jays may call home this season and finally the big Super Bowl game.