This isn’t a company waving the white flag – this is a company signaling its profit-taking from traditional media is over, and fuck all y’all who thought they were in it for anything other than to fuck you over for shareholder dividends.
…. While increasing the dividend.
— Matt Cundill | Voiceover | Podcasting (@MattCundill) February 8, 2024
Here’s the “we’re firing A LOT of you today, but don’t worry, it’s in the best interest of our shareholders who get your government subsidized salaries as dividends” email, which he didn’t grammar or spell check. The only thing he’s not wrong about is that Bell cannot fix a dead industry, but he helped kill it.
(and this is just the beginning)
Bell team members
Bell team members,
In June, 2023, we implemented a restructuring in light of the difficult operating environment we were facing. In many ways, the environment has become more difficult and further restructuring across Bell is therefore needed to succeed.
We certainly have made significant progress in our transformation journey and I am proud and humbled by the team’s dedication and unwavering commitment to supporting our customers. Our transformation has allowed us to be more agile and more focused on the growth areas of our business.
We have invested billions in our networks and technology, particularly by building pure fibre Internet to more homes and businesses and expanding Bell’s 5G and 5G+ network nationwide. Bell Media is making strong progress on several initiatives focused on delivering Canada’s most-watched programming on digital apps like Crave, and initiating the strategic news transformation announced last June.
However, we continue to face a difficult economy and government and regulatory decisions that undermine investment in our networks, fail to support our media business in a time of crisis and fail to level the playing field with global tech giants. Of particular concern is a recent decision by the CRTC forcing Bell to provide third party resellers access to our high-speed fibre network before we have even had an opportunity to recoup our multi-billion dollar investment. As I’ve shared before, at Bell Canada every year we can expect to lose over $250 million in legacy phone revenues. At Bell Media, our advertising revenues declined by $140 million in 2023 compared to 2022. Across Bell Media’s news operations, we continue to incur over $40 million in annual operating losses despite having the most-watched network of local TV stations.
While our transformation allows us to be faster and more agile, it also requires us to move away from highly regulated parts of the business to new growth areas – and to align our costs to the revenue potential of each business segment. This means organizational changes for our team and streamlining where we can, while finding ways to free up capital and resources to invest in new areas and to better serve our customers.
I wanted everyone to hear from me directly about these changes. Respect and transparency throughout the process is important. Over the coming weeks, we will implement significant reductions on our team at all levels of the company, reducing our workforce by approximately 4,800 positions, representing 9% of our workforce.
Restructuring decisions are incredibly tough for all of us because it affects the people we work with and care about. We know these decisions are hardest on those leaving Bell. Please know we will support each person affected, including fair severance packages along with career transition services and continued access to our health benefits. For those who are leaving the company, I thank each of you for your contributions. I encourage you to take full advantage of our support programs.
Wherever possible, we are using vacancies and natural attrition to minimize the impact on our team. We have already adopted other measures including reducing our capex over this year and next by over $1B following the CRTC’s recent decision, reducing our real estate footprint, continuing to cut back on travel and expenses, and ending some of our long-standing partnerships.
While we are reducing in areas where demand and revenue are declining, and where regulation is increasingly burdensome, we are continuing to invest and hire in growth areas. We will therefore move forward with capital investments, strategic acquisitions, new partnerships and service launches where it helps improve our business.
Recent accomplishments and announcements pave the way for success, such as:
• Our new strategic partnership with Best Buy Canada, which includes rebranding The Source stores to Best Buy Express.
• The launch of Crave on Amazon ad-supported tiers on Crave; introduction of Addressable TV enabling tailored ads to TV audiences; and the acquisition of the Canadian operations of OUTFRONT Media
• Moving to a single IPTV platform with our new next-generation Fibe TV servicea).
• Our acquisition of FX Innovation
and our new collaboration with ServiceNow, allowing us to better support Canadian businesses in their digital transformation.
Our exclusive, multi-year partnership with Staples Canada
Our partnership with Air Canada helping Aeroplan members stay connected in flight, and making it easier for newcomers and visitors to Canada to connect through Bell’s leading 5G network.
While today’s changes are difficult, it is what we must do to adapt and move forward.
Our commitment to Bell’s purpose to advance how Canadians connect with each other and the world has never been stronger. I am optimistic about our company’s future because I know that working together we will build an even stronger, enduring and transformed Bell in 2024 and beyond.
Hot note. Nothing says, “We’re in it for Canadians,” like announcing you’re firing close to 5000 of them and then blaming the government for it.
At issue for Bell – or the issue, they say is responsible for today’s announcement – the regulatory body is telling Bell to share their monopoly on ISP delivery with third-party companies like TechSavvy, who pay for that privilege. Bell likes that they (along with Rogers) own the telecommunications marketplace in Canada and want to keep colluding to keep prices up for foreign investment.
They blame the government for asking them to make telecom more affordable for Canadians. They also blame the government for not subsidizing their media division, so they’re getting out of radio where margins in an industry on life support don’t impress Dieter from Germany.
They didn’t cite their lack of vision or inability to reimagine the usefulness of traditional media. They didn’t talk about how taxpayers pumped a quarter of a billion into their coffers while firing employees and then spinning those subsidies into dividends and executive headcount bonuses. They blamed the government and the CRTC, which they effectively stacked with personal appointments and relationships.
This announcement is a lie meant to shift blame from profiteering and pure capitalist tyranny to a lack of government handouts in a multi-billion dollar environment THEY CONTROL.
The 10k employees they’ve fired over the past five years are numbers on a ledger. Not human beings. Not to Bell, no matter how tough Mirko says it is for those people, he has NO idea.
Those taxpayer subsidies meant for employees? Those were paid out as dividends, bonuses, or stuffed in a war chest to pivot the company into areas that pay more with less hassle. And that’s just business, unfortunately.
Part of that business led to Bell selling 45 radio stations (out of 100) and shuttering a few more, and I have something to say to ANYONE who loses their radio gig today…
Don’t Be Sad – Breathe
I’ve been slammed with DM’s, emails, and phone calls from people looking for a comment to Bell employees looking for work. A friend of mine sent me this note today:
“I know I’m done here. It’s odd, though – I experience nothing but dread, anxiety, and stress every day when I wake up wondering if today will be my last day doing a poorly paid job for people who treat me like shit, so I don’t know why I’m scared.”
Bingo. I’ve been out of traditional media for seven years. When people ask me if I miss it, I say the same thing: I miss the work but nothing that comes with it.
Radio was and still can be an incredible medium, but not when it’s run by people who hate it. Bell hates its media division because A) people are expensive, B) their consumers (readers, listeners, and users) complain to advertisers and regulatory boards, and that’s expensive.
Media is moving away from O & O (owned and operated) because the media economy has changed. TV, radio, and print no longer hire big names they can’t control or manage. They contract day parts, articles, and paid TV programming for pennies on the content dollar.
Traditional Media (Radio, TV, and Print) have lost 50-70% of their revenue over the past ten years because we A) have the Internet and don’t feel the need to be told when to consume something, B) they tried to replace GREAT talent with cheap talent while cutting their way to profitability and C) They have been pretending the Internet is a fad while on-demand authentic content ate their faces.
That’s the industry you’re leaving behind if you’re one of the 4800. You are about to be set free from working for people who don’t believe in you or your chosen profession. You’re walking out of buildings that give your government-subsidized salary to billionaire investors who like the fact Bell colludes against Canadian consumers.
You get to chart your course now, so breathe. This is a good thing in three years – it just sucks right now. You get to do the content you want and feel good about it instead of having a panic attack when you hit send on an email or see your boss’s office door closed. You get to give yourself agency over your life instead of giving your agency to a company that thinks your life is a number.
I’m so sorry.
— Dean Blundell🇨🇦 (@ItsDeanBlundell) February 8, 2024
“Getting Fired Was The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me”
That was a note from a former Bell employee who was turfed for being excellent at her job and making too much money. She pivoted, and three years later, she owns two companies she started from scratch, makes more money today than she did then, and has FULL AUTONOMY and AGENCY over her life.
Sometimes, life screams to take control – to do something else. We don’t see what’s next in times like these because we’ve never tested our agency, so we get scared. And it can suck. But THIS is the business of life. To pick yourself up, pull up your socks and pants, dust off your knees, and advocate for YOURSELF. None of that happens unless we get pushed sometimes. We won’t make ourselves uncomfortable unless we have to, and having your job taken away from you is VERY painful. Still, an uncomfortable struggle is the only way you will grow or learn how to deal with life, which can be incredibly unfair.
That’s why people say things like, “I’m grateful for that terrible experience but never want to go through it again.” Without that terrible experience, they would never have realized their agency. That agency gave them a new life they couldn’t have envisioned the day they were downsized. A better life that doesn’t include having a panic attack on your way to a job you could not control and one you hated anyway.
If I can do it, you can, too. You need to know what you control and what you don’t.
You can’t control results when you give agency to others.
You can when you give it to yourself. You can mitigate “unfairness” when you provide yourself with agency. You’re a victim of it when you give that agency to someone else.
You are worth your best effort. Greedy corporate assholes are not.
Dean Blundell is a Canadian radio personality. Best known as a longtime morning host on CFNY-FM (The Edge) in Toronto, Ontario. In 2015 he was named the new morning host on sports radio station CJCL (Sportsnet 590 The Fan). Dean started his career in radio in 2001 and for nearly 20 years been entertaining the radio audience. Dean’s newest venture is the launch of his site and podcast which is gaining tremendous momentum across North America.