Canadian politicians are unhappy with Bell’s call to lay off nine percent of its workforce.
“I’m furious. This is a garbage decision by a corporation that should know better,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday. “So yeah. I’m pretty pissed off about what just happened.”
B.C. Premier David Eby said Bell, and other corporations like it, bought local media assets that are valued by local communities like “corporate vampires” and “sucked the life out of them.”
“They have overseen the encrapification of local news,” Eby said Thursday.
The corporation announced on Thursday that it was laying off 4,800 employees. It’s selling 45 radio stations in Ontario, Québec, Atlantic Canada and B.C. Additionally, Bell is ending weekend newscasts at 6pm and 11pm at all CTV and CTV2 stations except Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa.
In an age of disinformation, people rely on the work of journalists and local news stations for unbiased and balanced information. However, giant media companies buy up local outlets and soon after liquify them.
— David Eby (@Dave_Eby) February 8, 2024
It was the company’s largest layoff in 30 years.
“The impact on communities in B.C. of their unrestrained corporate greed, they made $3 billion last year, is profound. The fact that they cannot find it possible with all of their MBAs to operate a few local news stations in British Columbia to ensure people get accurate, impartial, reliable information in an age of disinformation and social media craziness is such an abandonment of any idea of corporate responsibility,” Eby said.
In the fourth quarter of 2023, Bell made $435 million in profit, a 23 percent drop year-over-year. The company’s financial report showed it made $2.3 billion in profit in 2023. In 2022, it pulled $2.9 billion in profit.
Bell’s announcement also garnered a response from the federal government.
“In the past decade, when acquisitions were allowed for those big companies to acquire television stations or radio stations, it came with the promise that they would deliver on news content. And today, they are backing [away] from that promise,” Pascale St-Onge, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, said at a press conference on Thursday, according to CBC News.
Bell also imposed restrictions on its fibre internet services in response to a November order from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications (CRTC). The commission ordered Bell and Telus to share their fibre networks with competitors in Ontario and Québec at regulated rates. Bell doubled down on its promise to cut back on capital expenditures and capped fibre speeds to 3Gbps.