Canada’s Bell Media: Radio ‘Not A Viable Business Anymore’


Canada’s Bell Media has announced it is selling 45 of its 103 radio stations across British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada, “because it’s not a viable business anymore.” The sales come as Bell’s parent company BCE Inc. prepares to lay off nine percent of its workforce.

The layoffs translate to 4,800 positions, with an undisclosed portion impacting Bell Media directly. In an internal communique, Bell Media President Sean Cohan announced plans to sell the 45 signals to seven buyers: Vista Radio, Whiteoaks, Durham Radio, My Broadcasting Corp., ZoomerMedia, Arsenal Media, and Maritime Broadcasting.

Bell Chief Legal and Regulatory Officer Robert Malcolmson told the Canadian Press, “That’s a significant divestiture. It’s because it’s not a viable business anymore. We will continue to operate ones that are viable, but this is a business that is going in the wrong direction.”

In a BCE-wide memo, CEO Mirko Bibic says the company is escaping, “from highly regulated parts of the business to new growth areas.”  For Bibic, this means a continued digital transformation for its entertainment and news divisions. He emphasized the intention to minimize the impact of these layoffs through strategic vacancies and natural attrition.

When 1,300 were let go in June 2023, Bell Media blamed regulatory conditions laid out by the CRTC. Those cuts led to the end of CFTE, an AM station that had just celebrated its 100th anniversary. Now the sales of the 45 radio stations in question are contingent on approval from the CRTC.

The layoffs also affect Bell Media’s television operations, ceasing the weekday noon newscasts at all CTV stations except in Toronto. Weekend evening newscasts will be discontinued across all CTV and CTV2 stations, except in Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa.

All employees involved in the new round of cuts will be notified by the spring.

Malcolmson said, “We have to make tough decisions sometimes and hopefully these decisions will cause government and regulators to notice. Hopefully we can have a rational conversation about pivoting to public policy that supports investment and employment.”


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