THUNDER BAY – Local reporting at a number of Canada’s largest cities is about to change. Bell Media, the parent company of CTV has announced layoffs. Unifor, the union representing on-air and broadcasting technicians at seventeen local CTV stations across Canada has deplored the latest round of an estimated fifty job cuts at Bell Media’s national network.
“This latest round of layoffs isn’t just Bell Media’s penny-pinching, this one has been directly caused by the CRTC,” said Unifor Media Council Chair Jake Moore. “We warned the CRTC that tough licencing conditions would be required if big media companies were granted five-year licences for local news. They didn’t listen”.
Unifor states that “The layoffs will seal the fate of the CTV network’s remaining local sports broadcasts, adding their flagship station CFTO in Toronto to the list of casualties that already includes sports programming at CTV stations in Edmonton, Calgary, and Montreal. Local sports go off air in Toronto on December 27.”
The layoffs have struck at least fifteen TV and radio stations and include both on air and technical staff. On-air personalities include Ottawa CTV host Melissa Lamb, BNN host Michael Kane, and CFTO Sportscasters Joe Tilley and Lance Brown.
Lianne Laing, also an Ottawa CTV host, recently left Bell Media on her own accord to pursue other opportunities in advance of the impending layoffs.
The federal broadcasting regulator the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission granted the major TV networks five-year licence renewals on May 15, 2017. Then Chair Jean Pierre Blais rejected any licence conditions of “local presence” that might have guarded against cutting on-air staff.
“These huge media companies were allowed by the CRTC to grow big and eat up smaller companies with the expectation that they would maintain a high level of local news coverage,” said Unifor Media Director Howard Law. “This was supposed to end happily for local news, and it has not.”
Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.