Friday Wrap #50 – Garbage Decisions

Thursday, Bell Media decided to dump on the media industry, cut 4,800 jobs, sell 45 radio stations, kill off a bunch of local news shows, and lay waste to the scorched earth that is what’s left of media in Canada.

If you don’t know what I am talking about, click this link here, or here, or here, or here. The last link is to CTV’s reporting of the cuts being made to itself – I figured I’d throw them a few clicks of traffic before they no longer are able to report the news for a lack of resources.

The good side of this is more regional chains are snapping up the pieces of Bell that the corporate wizards think are doomed. Local ownership means a better chance of these outlets surviving and more people staying employed. But it didn’t have to get to this.

Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the cuts by Bell a “garbage decision.” The irony of this link is it’s from an American hedge-fund owned Canadian conglomerate that has been known for making garbage decisions. (National Post link)

We did not have to get to this point in Canadian media. If only there was a mechanism that could view mergers through an anti-competitive lens. A review mechanism that could look into its crystal ball to see what would happen if more and more media companies are consolidated. Right, we have one… the Competition Bureau.

Bell Media’s radio “empire” consists of Astral Media, which it bought 11 years ago on its second attempt. Astral bought Standard Broadcasting five years prior (2012). Five years before that, CTV-Globemedia (remember those guys) bought CHUM Limited. And so it goes. When Astral bought Standard, there were concerns over competition. Bell wanted Astral, and it took two tries for that marriage. Each time a new component was bought and merged, Chicken Littles ran around crying foul – more should have listened.

Corus Entertainment had the same shit canning path of mergers. So did Rogers. And then there’s print media. Hello Postmedia formerly Sun Media and Southam, Osprey and Bowes, and so on. Along the way, competition watchdogs were flying the warning flags.

Maybe after all the collapsing of CTV and its subsequent downsizing of it’s unprofitable stations – that company can get it’s shit together. The industry does as well, so too do the watchdogs. I don’t often agree with Trudeau, but it was definitely on-point with the garbage decisions from Bell.

Three things:

Something to watch – British Columbia Premier David Eby went off on a tirade about the Bell Media cuts. It was a good rant.

Something to read – Check this book out on Postmedia and the vultures that own its scarce bones: The Postmedia Effect – How Vulture Capitalism is Wrecking Our News.

Something to listen to – I like some covers. I like many covers if performed by Johnny Cash. I also like Tom Petty.

Last thought – Maybe, just maybe, people are starting to see that local ownership, not chains and conglomerates, is what is needed for media in Canada. Maybe. I am not an optimist, I am a realist. But I could realistically see this as a turning point… maybe.