ontario news watch

Bell asks CRTC to drop local news requirements after mass layoffs

TORONTO — BCE Inc.’s media arm is asking the federal telecommunications regulator to waive local news requirements for its television stations, saying its obligations are based on outdated market realities.

In an application to the CRTC, Bell Media requests it drop requirements for spending on local news and on the number of hours per week that stations are required to broadcast locally reflective news in major and smaller markets.

The application filed June 14 came the same day Bell announced it is cutting 1,300 positions, shutting or selling nine radio stations and closing two foreign bureaus amid plans to “significantly adapt” how it delivers the news in the face of rising financial pressure.

The filing notes Bell Media’s average annual news operating loss totalled $28.4 million between 2016 and 2019, a figure which jumped to $40 million last year as web giants scoop up the Canadian advertising market.

Bell says the CRTC’s implementation of the Online Streaming Act, has the potential to provide relief to media companies through compensation from online streaming giants, but it cannot afford to wait for outcome of the regulator’s consultations on the legislation.

Last week’s layoffs included a six per cent cut at Bell Media.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 23, 2023.

Companies in this story: (TSX:BCE)

The Canadian Press

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