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MuchMusic, MTV take brunt of Bell Media job cuts

President of Bell Media Kevin Crull delivers his keynote speech November 18, 2013 at the International Institute of Communications conference in Ottawa.

Dave Chan/The Globe and Mail

Bell Media has cut 91 jobs from its in-house production division, with channels such as MuchMusic suffering substantial reductions in staff.

The layoffs are part of a previously reported Bell Media plan to axe up to 120 jobs in its advertising and subscription TV services due to "financial pressure."

A spokesperson for Bell Media confirmed that 72 unionized and 19 non-unionized positions were eliminated on Wednesday. According to a bulletin from Unifor, the union representing many of the staff who were "declared surplus," MuchMusic (now known as Much) has lost "almost all of their original programming."

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A notice of layoff from Bell Media's director of Human Resources, Catherine Foti, appears to show at least 32 positions linked to MuchMusic being eliminated. The channels M3 (formerly MuchMoreMusic) and MTV suffered substantial losses, while CTV, Space and E! were also affected.

Among the positions cut are a director, a floor director, three camera operators, a dozen associate producers and a senior technical director.

In an interview last month, Bell Media president Kevin Crull said MuchMusic has been hamstrung by the fact that it is forced "to air 12 hours of music videos as a condition of license," and he is hoping for some "flexibility" in those conditions.

"Kids do not watch music videos on television. You're not going to wait for somebody to program a music video when you have a million available on Vevo," Mr. Crull said on June 5. "And so that has hurt the channel."

Bell has acknowledged its television operations face major pressure. In a submission to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) earlier this month, Bell wrote that "The system is challenged like never before ... and we know the Canadian television system needs to adapt."

One show cancelled due to the reduction of in-house production appears to be The Wedge, an indie music video program aired on MuchMusic. Host Damian Abraham tweeted a farewell to the program on Wednesday morning.

On Jun. 23, Bell Media also cancelled the prime-time news show "Kevin Newman Live" just seven months after it premiered.

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Bell Media notified the Ministry of Labour that it plans to cut up to 120 jobs, and spokesperson Amy Doary said in an e-mail that "it is possible additional efficiencies will be identified over the course of the summer."

BCE owns 15 per cent of The Globe and Mail.

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About the Author
Banking Reporter

James Bradshaw is banking reporter for the Report on Business. He covered media from 2014 to 2016, and higher education from 2010 to 2014. Prior to that, he worked as a cultural reporter for Globe Arts, and has written for both the Toronto section and the editorial page. More

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