Four veteran news professionals depart as Bell Media slashing hits CTV Edmonton

Posted on December 14, 2015, 12:19 am
5 mins

PHOTOS: CFRN in happier, pre-CTV times. Below: Journalists Serena Mah and Kim Taylor, veteran camera operator Robin Cleator, and editor Brian Fletcher.

Fallout from the mid-November “restructuring” at Bell Media continues to be felt at CTV operations across the country, including here in Edmonton.

If you haMahve particularly sharp eyes, you might have noticed the momentary farewell on one of CTV Edmonton’s Dec. 3 news broadcasts to four veteran news department employees who had agreed to take buyouts, with the voluntary nature of their departures heavily emphasized by the weirdly grinning anchor and his grey-suited male sidekicks.

If you blinked, though, you probably missed the cheerful little item on the departure for new opportunities of veteran journalists Serena Mah and Kim Taylor, 32-year camera operator Robin Cleator, and former camera operator turned full-time editor Brian Fletcher from the station previously known as CFRN-TV.

As far as I can tell, the impact on Edmonton news coverage of the foundering broadcaster’s head-office decision was not mentioned anywhere in a mainstream media text story, or by any other broadcaster – an all-too-typical omission as big-shot media bosses in Central Canada pare their operations nationwide to skeletal levels. This leaves news like this to be covered by the blogosphere, where you risk getting what you pay for.

TaylorNeedless to say, none of this will do much to improve the quality of CTV’s coverage of Alberta politics – Ms. Mah was assigned as a political reporter in the broadcaster’s Legislative bureau – or any other stories in the Edmonton region.

Meanwhile, the same media execs, like the CTV bosses’ counterparts at debt-ridden Postmedia Network, are scratching their heads about the way the Internet is wrecking their business model. Well, it’s conceded here that the Internet is part of the problem, but decisions like slashing news staff in a provincial capital aren’t going to do much for the enterprise’s success either.

And, actually, the situation is worse in Edmonton than it appears on the surface. In addition to the four unionized staffers who are known to have taken buyouts, several part-time and casual employees were laid off, including another journalist low on the seniority totem pole. I’ll leave him unnamed as an act of kindness during his job search.

RobinCThree producers are said to have lost their jobs at Bell Media’s CTV2 operation in Edmonton, the “educational” arm of CTV Alberta that began life as the provincial government’s Access TV operation. Access was sold off in 1995 during premier Ralph Klein’s privatization spree and eventually found its way into Bell Media’s portfolio.

Moreover, four mid-level managers were shown the door. Not long before them, veteran station manager Lloyd Lewis also departed. Your Edmonton station will now be run out of Calgary, insiders say, sort of like the way the Edmonton Sun for years had a managing editor based in the former Cowtown.

Fletcher-JPGI’m also told that when the layoffs were finally done, the bosses in Toronto realized they were still one short for the high jump – so they canned the staffer who’d been loyally processing the departees’ paperwork!

Regular TV news viewers will be interested to note that after the CTV News departures, no changes were made to CTV Edmonton’s broadcasting schedule. All local shows remain on the air at the same length. So that squeaking noise you hear in the background of future broadcasts will probably be the sound of the treadmills spinning ever faster.

As bad as things seem at CTV Edmonton, the carnage seems to have been worse in other Canadian centres. By the sound of it, more than 400 people lost their jobs at CTV operations across the country, maybe more. In the national capital, a popular anchor, a morning show host and a well-known sports reporter, all women, were quickly skidded out the door last month.

Alas, this is unlikely to be the end of it, here or elsewhere, as the chaos in the conventional Canadian news business continues through a destructive combination of digitization and executive myopia.

This post has been updated to include new information. It also appears on Rabble.ca.

10 Comments to: Four veteran news professionals depart as Bell Media slashing hits CTV Edmonton

  1. Bill Doyle

    December 14th, 2015

    As the CEO’s receive bonuses and profits for the stockholders increase, the employees are identified as numbers affecting the profits rather than as people who create the revenue.

    Reply
  2. Liam Young

    December 14th, 2015

    I find it interesting that a rabble-based article is concerned about the fate of a Bell Canada subsidiary. I mean, I feel bad for these people, but they’re working for Bell. Bell is the same company that throttles users, will limit available bandwidth for ALL Canadian consumers and controls most of the mainstream media message in Canada.
    I would have thought a company / organization like rabble.ca would have been rejoicing the financial hardships of a company like Bell.
    Maybe you should offer these talented people a job and have them work for good rather than the ‘dark side’.

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      December 14th, 2015

      To clarify a couple of points, Liam, this is my own blog on which I publish my own observations and opinions. I have an agreement with Rabble.ca that allows me to republish on their site, which is a great benefit to me in the sense it increases my readership, and I hope also for them by bringing them additional readers. At any rate, I am very grateful to Rabble for the opportunity to publish on their very-well-read site. Naturally, the people in charge of Rabble and I are generally in accord on broad principles, although they publish a range of opinions on the same issues – as conservative newspapers of old used to do and don’t do any more. They have also disagreed with me strongly on a couple of occasions and nevertheless allowed me to publish my views. They don’t pay me for my posts, and I don’t pay them to put them there. That said, I highly doubt anyone at Rabble would rejoice in the failure of a company that employs many Canadians, and unionized ones at that. On the contrary, their goal – and mine – is to encourage such corporations to act as better corporate citizens. DJC

      Reply
      • Tom in Ontario

        December 14th, 2015

        Excellent synopsis of the role of the blogger and how he gets the message out. As regular readers know, Climenhaga is an accomplished writer who produces well researched articles on an almost daily basis.

        Certainly there are those who disagree with his point of view, that’s expected, but where in the blogosphere can we find anything like his analysis of the political scene? Not in the main stream media.

        Do him a favour. Donate to his blog. (He didn’t ask me to write this.)

        Reply
        • David Climenhaga

          December 14th, 2015

          How embarrassing to see a comment on a night when I can’t think of anything to write about! Well, Tom did say an almost daily basis. I’m blaming it on post-holiday fatigue. DJC

          Reply
  3. Adrian Pearce

    December 15th, 2015

    We are watching the end of local television as we know it…

    Reply
  4. Eliades Pastor

    December 16th, 2015

    If the CRTC does not force TV stations to carry local content as a condition of licence, local news will cease to exist.
    In its place look for sponsored content programs – pots and pans, beauty aids and the like.
    The airways are public property we need local content of substance to reflect the positive aspects of our society.
    Ambulance chasing and celebrity gossip will not be missed though I have to say!

    Reply
  5. Al Martin

    December 25th, 2015

    The Harper government spent an average of $100 million a year on advertising, Bell Media received a significant portion of this.

    Reply

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