Bell layoffs hit hard
Trevor Nichols – Feb 2, 2017 / 9:02 am | Story: 187672
Local Bell radio stations were some of the properties hit by the layoffs
The latest round of Bell Media layoffs hit close to home this week as several high-profile employees in the Okanagan were left without jobs.
Included in the cuts were 53-year radio industry veteran Gord Leighton in Vernon, both members of CTV’s Kelowna bureau, and group program director Mark Burley and his wife Janet.
Farther afield, veteran news anchor Coleen Christie was let go from CTV Vancouver, and TSN personalities Peter Schaad and Scott Rintoul were dropped. Bell also let veteran Victoria radio personality Steve Duffy go.
Leighton, who had worked as general manager for Sun FM and EZ Rock in the North Okanagan, told Puget Sound Radio that Bell “sent him packing” just three days short of his 53rd anniversary in broadcasting.
Meanwhile, Kent Molgat and Barry Fontaine, who worked out of CTV television’s Okanagan bureau in Kelowna, are both out of a job after the company shut the operation down.
Reflecting on the news, Molgat said Wednesday there had been a definite uneasiness within the company in the wake of Bell’s recent waves of layoffs.
Molgat had been at his position for nine years and was somewhat optimistic about his prospects, so getting the news was still a shock.
Sitting across from his boss, staring at a manilla envelope with his name written on it, Molgat said the reality of the situation suddenly hit him.
“It’s the kind of thing that as your brain’s absorbing it, it’s almost physical, I could almost feel my brain taking it like a punch,” he said.
“For 30 years, I’ve gotten up in the morning, figured out what I’m working on, found the people to talk to, figured out what pictures we’re going to need, put together a story and started again. I’m 52 now, and all of a sudden someone across a desk says ‘no more.’”
Bell has not announced how many employees were let go across the country and did not immediately respond to requests for more information.
In a press release, Scott Henderson said the latest round of layoffs came amid more international competition, changing broadcast technology and pressure from advertisers and regulators.
Molgat said he loved his gig at CTV and little could probably have been done to prevent the Okanagan layoffs.
“I’m not privy to the whole decision-making chain, but I have a pretty clear sense that this is a decision made by a big company in a city far away that demands the branch plant make a certain amount of cuts, and then they have to make tough decisions at that point,” he said.
In the third quarter of 2016, Bell reported operating revenues of more than $5.4 billion, a $62 million gain over the same period in 2015. The company’s financial report boasted increases in net earnings, cash flow and a 3.5 per cent increase in media revenue.
Bell is scheduled to release its fourth-quarter earnings for 2016 this week.