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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bell Media Inc.
Formerly
TypeSubsidiary
IndustryMass media
Founded1960 (Telegram Corporation)
2001 (Bell Globemedia Inc.)
2011 (current form)
Headquarters299 Queen Street West, ,
Canada
Area served
Canada
Key people
Number of employees
5,000+
ParentBCE Inc.
Divisions
Websitewww.bellmedia.ca
Footnotes / references
[1][2]

Bell Media Inc. (French: Bell Média inc.)[1] is a Canadian company formed by the amalgamation of several companies.

Company expansion (2011–13)

On December 9, 2011, the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan announced the sale of its majority stake in Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment to BCE and its rival, Rogers Communications, in a deal valued at around $1.32 billion. Additionally, Larry Tanenbaum increased his stake in the company to 25%.[3] The deal closed in August 2012.[4]

On March 16, 2012, BCE announced that it had entered in an agreement to acquire Montreal-based broadcaster Astral Media for an estimated value at $3.38 billion; the assets of which were to be incorporated into Bell Media. The acquisition was primarily centered on Astral's premium services (such as The Movie Network and its stake in HBO Canada) and its French-language radio and television stations. Bell planned to use Astral's premium offerings to enhance its own multi-platform services to compete against the likes of services such as Netflix, and its French media outlets to better compete against the dominant Québecor Média.[5] The merger was notably opposed by a coalition of competing cable providers (which included Cogeco, EastLink, and Vidéotron—the last of which is also owned by Québecor Média, who felt that Bell's control of a majority of Canadian media would harm consumer choice, and lead to increased carriage fees which could cripple smaller cable companies.[6]

BCE's first proposal was denied by the CRTC in October 2012; the commission believed that the combined company would have had too much market power. Soon afterward, Bell and Astral began to negotiate a second proposal that would involve selling most of Astral's English-language television channels in order to quell fears by the CRTC.[7][8][9] On March 18, 2013, the Competition Bureau cleared the revised proposal.[10] Unlike the previous deal, which would have given Bell a 42% share of the English-language television market, the new deal would only give Bell a total market share of 35.7%, but still increase its French-language market share to 23% (in comparison to 8% before).[11] Following hearings by the CRTC in May 2013,[12] the CRTC approved Bell's acquisition of Astral Media on June 27, 2013. The deal is subject to conditions, including the requirement to provide fair treatment to its competitors, to not impose "restrictive bundling practices" on Astral's premium movie channels, invest $246.9 million over the next seven years on Canadian-produced programming, and to maintain the operation and local programming levels of all of its television stations through 2017. The CRTC also approved Bell's proposed exemptions for maintaining ownership of Montreal's CKGM.[13][14] Bell put Family, Disney XD, the two Disney Junior services in English and French, MusiMax, MusiquePlus, and five radio stations (two in Toronto and three in Vancouver) up for sale, while Corus Entertainment acquired Historia, Séries+, and the Teletoon networks from Astral and competitor Shaw Media.

On June 6, 2013, Bell announced that Bravo would be its first network to implement a TV Everywhere service, which would allow subscribers to Bravo on participating television service providers to stream video on demand content and the Bravo channel live via the Bravo Go app. Apps for some of its other networks were also released over the following months.[15]

Layoffs, new partnerships (2014–17)

In December 2014, Bell Media launched CraveTV, a subscription video on-demand service.[16] Initially, the service was available only through television providers; Bell Media president Kevin Crull argued that Bell did not want the service to cannibalize its linear television business, because its content "[would not] exist if you didn't have the traditional TV system. So you really can't sustainably have one without the other."[17]

On April 9, 2015, Crull stepped down as president of Bell Media, and was replaced by Mary Ann Turcke, the subsidiary's former head of media sales. The move came following allegations reported by The Globe and Mail that, after the CRTC's March 2015 decision to mandate that pay television providers offer a la carte packages, Crull ordered all Bell-owned news properties, including CTV News, not to air any remarks by CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais during reports regarding the decision. Although the CTV News Channel program Power Play and a report aired on local evening newscasts complied with Crull's order, the CTV National News that night defied Crull's demand by airing a story on the changes that included remarks by Blais. CTV News president Wendy Freeman, Ottawa bureau chief Robert Fife, and the program's anchor Lisa LaFlamme felt that the inclusion of remarks by Blais were necessary due to the nature of the story. In response to the dismissal, BCE CEO George A. Cope explained that the journalistic independence of its news operations were "paramount importance to our company and to all Canadians".[18][19]

Shortly after taking the position, Turcke was criticized for remarks that considered the use of virtual private network services to evade geo-blocking and access the U.S. version of subscription video on demand service Netflix to be "stealing".[20][21][22]

In late-August 2015, Bell Media began a series of layoffs, which included directors and vice presidents. On November 6, 2015, additional layoffs of 380 jobs from production, editorial, sales, and administrative roles in Toronto and Montreal were revealed.[23] On November 17, 2015, further cuts were made, which included high-profile on-air talent from radio and television properties in Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver.[24]

On November 20, 2015, Corus announced that it would wind down the operation of Movie Central, a premium television service that had been granted exclusivity in Western Canada, and cede its regional monopoly to Bell Media's The Movie Network, which was similarly restricted to Eastern Canada, allowing it to become available nationwide in 2016. Bell Media subsequently announced that it had acquired exclusive Canadian rights to all current HBO programming in Canada (rights previously shared with Corus due to its joint venture HBO Canada).[25]

On January 6, 2016, iHeartMedia announced that it had partnered with Bell Media to launch a localized version of its online radio service iHeartRadio Canada.[26] On January 14, 2016, CraveTV became available as a standalone service without requiring an existing television subscription.[27]

On May 4, 2016, Bell acquired rights to the programming and branding of Canadian specialty channel Gusto TV. The channel was shut down, and re-launched on September 1, 2016, replacing M3 under its existing Category A license.[28][29][30]

On January 31, 2017, Bell Media announced that it planned to perform another round of layoffs in 24 locations, citing various developments across Canada's broadcasting industry, as well as the impact of recent regulatory decisions (such as one that prevents the federal simsub rules from being used on the Super Bowl, whose Canadian broadcast rights are currently owned by Bell Media).[31]

Randy Lennox era (2017–19)

On February 27, 2017, Turcke left Bell to join the National Football League as president of NFL Media. She was succeeded as president by Randy Lennox.[32] That month, Bell also announced that it had partnered with record executive Scott Borchetta to develop a new, international television format that would "uncover, develop, and promote pop culture's next musical superstars", and "leverage Bell Media's massive reach and extensive platforms to showcase musicians on the national and international stage."[33] CTV officially announced the new series, The Launch, in April 2017.[34]

On June 7, 2017, Wow Unlimited Media announced that it would acquire a specialty channel from the company (later revealed to be Comedy Gold; however, the sale would later be aborted, leading to the channel's shutdown in 2019)[35] to form a new network targeting children and young adults, and provide children's television content for Bell's over-the-top ventures. As part of the purchase, BCE will take 3.4 million common voting shares in the company.[36]

On August 9, 2017, Bell announced that it would acquire Larche Communications' four Ontario radio stations, pending CRTC approval.[37]

On October 17, 2017, Bell Media announced its intent to acquire Historia and Séries+—two French-language networks whose Astral-owned stakes were divested during its acquisition by Bell—from Corus Entertainment for $200 million.[38] On May 28, 2018, both transactions were blocked by the Competition Bureau, citing a condition on the Bell/Astral deal which forbade Bell from re-acquiring properties divested in the sale for 10 years after its completion.[39]

On January 23, 2018, Bell Media announced that it had reached licensing agreements with Starz Inc. and Lionsgate, and that TMN Encore would be rebranded under the Starz brand in 2019, featuring its programming.[40][41] The following month, Bell launched SnackableTV, a streaming video app with short-form content from Bell Media properties and other sources.[42]

In April 2018, Bell Media acquired a controlling stake in the Pinewood Toronto Studios complex.[43] In May 2018, Bell Media announced that it, along with several other parties, would contribute French-language content to Radio-Canada's subscription streaming service Ici Tou.tv Extra.[44]

In May 2018, Bell Media laid off 17 employees, resulting in the cancellation of Discovery's Daily Planet and Space's Innerspace.[45]

On June 7, 2018, during the CTV upfronts, it was announced that four Bell Media specialty channels would re-brand in September 2019, with Bravo, Comedy Network, Gusto, and Space respectively becoming CTV Drama Channel, CTV Comedy Channel, CTV Life Channel, and CTV Sci-Fi Channel. Two new ad-supported video-on-demand platforms were also announced: CTV Movies and CTV Vault (renamed CTV Throwback on launch). These rebrandings and launches will be incorporated into a larger, unified digital platform containing content from all six services.[46][47][48] Later that day, it was also announced that Bell Media was one of two Canadian companies that had acquired a stake in the Montreal-based comedy festival Just for Laughs.[49]

On August 16, 2018, Vice Media announced a long-term output deal with Bell Media, which would see its networks and properties hold rights to Viceland programming in Canada.[50]

On July 24, 2019, Bell announced its intent to acquire the French-language broadcast television network V from V Media Group pending CRTC approval, as well as its streaming outlet Noovo. CTVglobemedia previously owned a 40% stake in the network prior to its sale to Remstar.[51] On April 3, 2020, the sale was approved; as a condition of the purchase, the CRTC stated that all five V stations must air five hours of local programming per-week through the 2020-2021 broadcast year, and expanding to eight-and-a-half hours per-week in Montreal and Quebec City by 2021–2022. At least half of all local programming must be locally-reflective.[52] The sale was closed on May 15, 2020.[53] V would later be renamed to Noovo on August 31, 2020.[54]

Wade Oosterman era

On October 19, 2020, BCE announced that Lennox would be leaving the organization on January 4, 2021, and that Bell group president Wade Oosterman, to whom Lennox reported, would take over operational leadership of Bell Media directly, while maintaining oversight of Bell's wireless, residential, and small-business telecom operations.[55] BCE subsequently clarified that Oosterman would henceforth hold the title of president of Bell Media while remaining vice-chair of BCE and Bell Canada.[56]

Immediately following Lennox's departure, Oosterman announced a new, simplified executive structure. As a result, several senior executives of Bell Media, some having served with the company's predecessors since the late 1990s, left the company; two of the three senior vice presidents reporting to Oosterman under the new structure also have roles overseeing parts of Bell's telecom business.[57][58] Several other lower-level managers were laid off about two weeks later.[59] This in turn was followed in early February by the elimination of hundreds of rank-and-file positions, including at least 210 in the company's Toronto offices alone, the removal of dedicated newsrooms for news-talk radio stations CJAD Montreal and CFRB Toronto, and the reformatting of three TSN Radio outlets as automated business news or comedy stations with little locally produced content.[60][61][62]

In a memo announcing the end of the restructuring, Oosterman described the moves as necessary to "reflect the reality of sweeping change facing [Bell Media]" including impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, changing media consumption patterns and "aggressive" competition from global players.[62] They were also widely seen as indicating a corporate shift in focus away from traditional media outlets and towards Bell's streaming services like Crave and iHeartRadio.[57][58] However, observers including Unifor, the main labour union representing Bell employees, questioned the need for the layoffs, given that parent company BCE had accepted $122 million in assistance through the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy in 2020, while being able to increase its dividend payments to shareholders.[63]

Operations

Bell Media's largest division is CTV Inc. which includes the broadcast television assets of:

CTV Inc. also includes 29 specialty television channels, frequently in partnership with U.S. companies which operate similar channels, and primarily concentrated in the following genres:

Genre Key channels[64] American partner
Sports TSN (TSN2) RDS (RDS2, RDS Info), ESPN Classic, and others ESPN (part-owner/licensor)
Music and comedy CTV Comedy Channel, Much, MTV (MTV2), and Vrak Paramount Global (licensor – MTV channels only), Comedy Central, truTV, TBS (program suppliers for both Much and CTV Comedy Channel only)
Factual and science fiction Discovery (Discovery Science, Discovery Velocity, and other various spinoff channels), Animal Planet, Investigation Discovery Warner Bros. Discovery (part-owner/licensor)
News (CTV News) BNN Bloomberg, CP24, and CTV News Channel Bloomberg L.P. (licensor – BNN Bloomberg only)1
Speculative fiction/technology CTV Sci-Fi Channel and Z Syfy (program supplier)
Entertainment CTV Drama Channel and E! NBCUniversal (licensor – E! only), TNT, USA Network (program suppliers for CTV Drama Channel)
Pay-per-view Vu! and Venus n/a
Premium HBO Canada, Crave, Starz, Super Écran, and Cinépop HBO, HBO Max, Showtime, and Starz (program suppliers)
Other Canal D, CTV Life Channel, and Canal Vie n/a
Radio iHeartRadio Canada iHeartMedia (licensor), Premiere Networks (supplier of American programming for Orbyt Media)

1Until the rebranding of Business News Network as BNN Bloomberg as part of a licensing and content agreement with Bloomberg L.P. on April 30, 2018, no foreign co-owners or brand partners were involved with these channels. However, like most news organizations, CTV does rely on foreign news sources, such as ABC News and CNN, for some international coverage.

Through its Bell Media Radio division, the company is also Canada's largest private-sector radio broadcaster and operates a localized version of iHeartMedia's iHeartRadio platform in Canada, even owning the radio syndication company Orbyt Media, which supplies its American programming from iHeartMedia's Premiere Networks division.

In addition, Bell Media also owns television & radio production studios and websites associated with all of the above properties, as well as the TheLoop.ca (formerly Sympatico.ca) Internet portal previously operated through Bell Canada.

Bell Media has five locations:

Corporate logos

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "Federal Corporation Information". Corporations Canada. Retrieved 2020-05-28.
  2. ^ "Bell Media President Kevin Crull – Canada's Media System and Vertical Integration". Canadian Business Journal. 2014-09-17. Retrieved 2015-03-08.
  3. ^ Hamilton, Kevin (2011-12-09). "Rogers and Bell buy MLSE (and now own every Canadian sports team, stadium and channel ever)". Toronto Life. Retrieved 2019-10-23.
  4. ^ "Rogers, Bell finalize MLSE purchase | The Star". thestar.com. 22 August 2012. Retrieved 2019-10-23.
  5. ^ Sturgeon, Jamie. "Bell snaps up Astral Media for $3.38-billion". Financial Post. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  6. ^ Johnson, Julia. "Cable company opposition to Bell's Astral purchase heats up". Financial Post. Retrieved 19 September 2012.
  7. ^ "Astral confirms talks with BCE to resurrect takeover deal". Toronto: The Globe and Mail. 16 November 2012. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  8. ^ "Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2012-574". CRTC. 18 October 2012. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  9. ^ "CRTC kills BCE-Astral merger deal". Toronto: The Globe and Mail. 18 October 2012. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  10. ^ "Competition Bureau clears Corus acquisition of Astral assets". The Globe and Mail. Toronto: Canadian Press. 18 March 2013. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
  11. ^ "Competition Bureau OK's BCE-Astral deal, with conditions". CBC News. Retrieved 5 March 2013.
  12. ^ "Bell resistant to CRTC's TSN 690 proposal". Montreal Gazette. Archived from the original on 8 May 2013. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
  13. ^ "CRTC approves Bell/Astral deal with conditions". Toronto Star. 27 June 2013. Retrieved 5 July 2013.
  14. ^ "CRTC approves Bell-Astral merger". CBC. Retrieved 5 July 2013.
  15. ^ "Bell Media to give subscribers full online access to Bravo". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. 6 June 2013. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  16. ^ "Bell Media's Cravetv launches with low-cost subscription". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2018-03-14.
  17. ^ "CraveTV 'not cannibalizing' resources away from traditional TV, says Bell Media president". Financial Post. Retrieved December 12, 2014.
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  19. ^ Bradshaw, James (25 March 2015). "Bell head meddled in news coverage". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  20. ^ "Accessing U.S. Netflix is 'stealing,' new Bell Media president says". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
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  26. ^ "iHeartRadio joins Canada's streaming market through partnership with Bell". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
  27. ^ "CraveTV now available to all Canadians with Internet". London Free Press. Postmedia Network. Canadian Press. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  28. ^ "Ottawa's Gusto TV to expand after deal with Bell Media". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  29. ^ "Bell Media goes for Gusto, eyes lifestyle channel launch". Realscreen. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
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  34. ^ "CTV Unveils THE LAUNCH, A New Six-Part Original Music Series and International TV Format - Casting for the Next Big Breakout Artist Open Now!". Bell Media. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  35. ^ "The Cartt.ca Interview: Bell Media president Randy Lennox talks rich uncles, teeter-totters and Ty Cobb". Cartt.ca. Retrieved 2017-10-30.
  36. ^ Reid, Regan (June 8, 2017). "Wow Unlimited to acquire channel from Bell Media". Kidscreen. Brunico Communications. Retrieved June 9, 2017.
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  39. ^ "Analysts predict steeper Corus dividend cut after watchdog blocks $200-million sale of TV stations to Bell". Financial Post. 2018-05-28. Retrieved 2018-05-28.
  40. ^ Littleton, Cynthia (2018-01-23). "Starz Expands Into Canada With Bell Media Pact". Variety. Retrieved 2018-01-23.
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  43. ^ "Canada's Bell Media Buys Control of Pinewood Toronto Studios (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2018-04-02.
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  48. ^ "Magnum P.I. reboot, new Jann Arden comedy on CTV's fall lineup". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2018-06-07.
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External links

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