CTV Montreal parts with sales manager

Updated below with information from Ecclissi.

Tony Ecclissi gives a presentation about CTV Montreal's fall lineup on June 13. He won't be sticking around to see it on air.

Tony Ecclissi gives a presentation about CTV Montreal’s fall lineup on June 13. He won’t be sticking around to see it on air.

Tony Ecclissi no longer works for CTV Montreal. In what general manager Louis Douville qualified as a “simple re-structuring,” the position of General Sales Manager has been eliminated.

“Martin Poirier will take over the National Sales Manager portfolio and I plan on announcing a Retail Sales Manager in the near future,” Douville wrote to me in an email when I inquired about Ecclissi.

People emailing Ecclissi are now getting an automated reply that reads “Please note that Mr. Antonio Ecclissi is no longer with the company,” followed by contact information for Poirier and Douville, who’s handling local sales for now.

Ecclissi’s LinkedIn page, which has been updated to reflect the end of his three-year tenure at CTV Montreal, lists his profession as “Media Advertising Specialist.”

“There has been some restructuring as you know as a result of the Astral purchase,” Ecclissi told me. “Myself along with the Sales Managers at CTV Ottawa (Dan Champagne) and CTV Vancouver (Lynne Forbes) are the latest casualties who were let go last week. I was General Sales Manager and responsible for both the National Sales Team and the Local sales team.”

Tony Ecclissi

UPDATE (Sept. 4): CTV Montreal has split Ecclissi’s former job in two, naming former TSN 690 GM Wayne Bews as retail sales manager and senior account executive Martin Poirier as national sales manager.

17 thoughts on “CTV Montreal parts with sales manager

  1. Media Man

    Interesting. Is this part of the expected bleeding as a result of the ill-fated Bell-Astral merger.

    Since Martin Spalding seems to be the Bell Media guy in Quebec, does CTV Montreal now come under his jurisdiction, if so, does change come from him, or hopefully, the TV network comes under another suit.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Since Martin Spalding seems to be the Bell Media guy in Quebec, does CTV Montreal now come under his jurisdiction

      No. Spalding is in charge of radio, not television.

      Reply
  2. William

    Age of cost cutting and downsizing continues.

    Not much of a shock where your market isn’t exactly growing.

    Reply
  3. Tony Ecclissi

    Hi Steve I did respond to your message via Facebook on Wednesday August 14 at 8:30 am . Here is what I sent:

    There has been some restructuring as you know as a result of the Astral purchase. Myself along with the Sales Managers at CTV Ottawa ( Dan Champagne) and CTV Vancouver ( Lynne Forbes ) are the latest casualties who were let go last week. I was General Sales Manager and responsible for both the National Sales Team and the Local sales team. Thanks.

    Reply
      1. Dilbert

        Oh, ooops… so the purchase of Astral hurt TV? Hmmm!

        Steve, looks like you may need to go back and revise a few of your ideas on this – clearly Bell is going to integrate until it really hurts.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          Oh, ooops… so the purchase of Astral hurt TV? Hmmm!

          Well, it hurt Mr. Ecclissi’s job, that’s for sure. I don’t know what impact these job losses will have on the over-the-air product.

          clearly Bell is going to integrate until it really hurts.

          Bell never denied there might be job losses as a result of this deal, though it did its best to minimize talk of that before the hearings (and even suggested that not allowing the deal would result in huge job losses because Astral would have to be split up). It’s an unfortunate consequence of media concentration, and one of the major reasons against the deal.

          Reply
            1. Fagstein Post author

              Didn’t the CRTC foresee this

              Job losses? Sure. But the CRTC’s mandate isn’t to protect jobs, it’s to ensure what’s best for the broadcasting system. The Bell takeover means cutting jobs, but it’s also resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars of new money going into new projects. The CRTC decided that when balanced out, the acquisition was in the best interests of Canadians.

              Reply
              1. Dilbert

                “The Bell takeover means cutting jobs, but it’s also resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars of new money going into new projects. ”

                It’s not new money. It’s not money pulled out of thin air, not freshly minted. It’s money that comes from somewhere. a couple of hundred million (forced to be that high, I might add) is nothing more than part of the sale price of the property. Astral could have likely collected most of that as extra on the sale of the stations if the CRTC wasn’t getting it.

                It’s a net number, like it or not.

                Further, if they put “hundreds of millions” on the table, and yet generate income from it, is it really hundreds of millions of just another net number game?

                Finally, if those hundreds of millions come by slashing jobs, pushing for higher cable rates, and limiting competition further, are we really ahead? At best, we appear to be trading short term gains for long term pain.

              2. Fagstein Post author

                It’s not new money. It’s not money pulled out of thin air, not freshly minted.

                It’s money that Bell would not otherwise be spending. The point is that it’s money that’s new to the producers who will be getting it.

                a couple of hundred million (forced to be that high, I might add) is nothing more than part of the sale price of the property.

                But it’s not part of the sale price, because it’s not going to the people selling. It’s a tax put on the sale by the CRTC to benefit a third party.

                Astral could have likely collected most of that as extra on the sale of the stations if the CRTC wasn’t getting it.

                I have no idea what this is supposed to mean.

                Further, if they put “hundreds of millions” on the table, and yet generate income from it, is it really hundreds of millions of just another net number game?

                Considering those hundreds of millions of dollars are going into Canadian content, and much of it is going into independent funds that Bell doesn’t control, I don’t see them getting much income from it.

                Finally, if those hundreds of millions come by slashing jobs, pushing for higher cable rates, and limiting competition further, are we really ahead? At best, we appear to be trading short term gains for long term pain.

                That’s a legitimate question, and one thing the CRTC had to grapple with. On the one hand, Astral didn’t own a cable company and didn’t compete with Bell in many areas (like TV news). On the other hand, absorbing Astral into Bell unquestionably reduces competition. In this case, the CRTC decided that the purchase was in the best interest of the broadcasting system.

              3. Dilbert

                “But it’s not part of the sale price, because it’s not going to the people selling. It’s a tax put on the sale by the CRTC to benefit a third party.”

                The thing is this: The sale price of any property is basically “what it’s worth” minus any taxes or liabilities that come in. The CRTC “tax” is essentially part of the purchase price, and something that Bell would have considered during it’s offers to Astral. That the CRTC made the number higher is probably why Bell was squawking loudly about that part, as it pushed the total purchase price above what they had figured as their bottom line to do it.

                Without the CRTC mandated tax, Astral could have asked that much more for the property. But the tax is a liability, and counts against the final asking price for the property.

                “It’s money that Bell would not otherwise be spending.”

                Not true. If Bell is spending money to create programming, they are somewhere else removing money from other areas to pay for it – such as purchasing programs from other producers. They didn’t suddenly add a bunch of airtime, they still have the same 24 hours as always. So if they spend X to produce 1 hour of “house” programming they don’t spend Y to purchase programming for that hour from someone else. If the money goes to “canadian content” producers, Bell just turns around and buys the programming from them on the cheap (because it’s subsidized to make!), and away they go.

                Further, in order to make the bottom line of the company work out, they are likely to have turned around to look for further cuts and cost reductions compared to what was in front of the CRTC originally, as they have to get back the extra millions that was tacked on. So get rid of a few sales people, shave some management, re-use programming a little more at a lower cost, maybe work on replacing local TV sports news people with a “TSN” packaged sports news, and away you go.

                There is no new money, Bell isn’t the sort of company to pull cash out of their wallets and just throw it away. If you see them forced to spend money, they are most certainly making up for it somewhere else.

              4. Fagstein Post author

                If Bell is spending money to create programming, they are somewhere else removing money from other areas to pay for it – such as purchasing programs from other producers.

                To be clear, Bell isn’t creating programming directly, it’s providing money to funds that finance programming. And those funds aren’t controlled by Bell. And that programming won’t necessarily air on Bell-controlled channels either.

                A key test for tangible benefits is that it is “incremental”, meaning that it has to be money it would not otherwise spend as part of its normal course of business. So Bell isn’t allowed to subtract from, say, its Canadian programming expenditures, in order to pay it. In short, this is a net increase in spending on Canadian programming.

                Further, in order to make the bottom line of the company work out, they are likely to have turned around to look for further cuts and cost reductions compared to what was in front of the CRTC originally, as they have to get back the extra millions that was tacked on.

                And Bell is well within its rights to do that, provided it doesn’t interfere with obligations and licence conditions it has agreed to with the CRTC. But I don’t see a direct link between tangible benefits spending and cuts in other areas. If the cuts are warranted, I would think they would happen either way.

                Remember that Bell is a for-profit company. Expenses are not a zero-sum game, because profit is variable, and they’re not going to wait for expenses to rise in one area before they cut unnecessary expenses in another.

  4. Dilbert

    ” But I don’t see a direct link between tangible benefits spending and cuts in other areas. If the cuts are warranted, I would think they would happen either way.”

    I guess you didn’t get a press release for it, right?

    Seriously: If they have to spend more money in one place, and want to keep the bottom line in check, shazzam, there are cuts somewhere else.

    “Expenses are not a zero-sum game, because profit is variable, and they’re not going to wait for expenses to rise in one area before they cut unnecessary expenses in another.”

    Of course not. I am surprised that you can’t seem to make the final link, which is that these cuts, while not revealed to the CRTC (as Bell pretty much said “business as usual”), are as a result of the merger. You don’t think that Bell didn’t have a plan up front about such things, having looked at the purchase, and decided that they can better do a number of areas with less people, and as such, the CRTC imposed “tax” would be recovered in a reasonable period?

    Remember, if Astral and Bell were both profitable before (and run effeciently) any cuts are a product of merger, and not a sudden realization of waste. They were not wasteful companies before, were they?

    The tangible benefits package is 246 million over 7 years, or 35 million per year. I am guessing that releasing three top sales execs (and related expenses to their opertions, including perhaps people who worked directly for them) would account for at least 1 of those millions… (remember, salaries, benefits, office costs, staff, and so on). I am sure there are plenty more of this sort of quiet cuts that have either happened or will happen in the next little while, from merging offices (moving TSN into the Astral-Bell building, example), to thinning down technical staff as things like transmitters and studio equipment can be managed by fewer people in each area. At the end of the day, It’s unlikely that the Bell bottom line will suffer in the slightest.

    Remember too, that with 35 million a year of additional programming available Bell will certainly benefit from some of it. It’s not as easy to track because the programming may not end up on ex-astral stations, or may not promote ex-astral properties, but Bell will almost certainly benefit. Remember, even with new programming created, airtime overall hasn’t been increased, so basic supply and demand models suggest that programming costs would go down at least a little because there would be more supply than demand.

    Finally, consider the history of the Bell / CTV / Local stations mergers over the last few years. At this point, the number of staff working for CFCF / CTV Montreal is way down, and at this point, CTV Montreal appears to be incapable of putting it’s own signal on the air without the help of Toronto switching. Fewer reporters, fewer technical staff… you have to imagine that this money more than offset any tangible benefits costs at the time.

    I know your answer… It’s up to the CRTC… I understand. I am just surprised that you cannot see how the supposed new money is really just old money tossed in a different direction.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      If they have to spend more money in one place, and want to keep the bottom line in check, shazzam, there are cuts somewhere else.

      This seems to assume that they want the bottom line to stay constant. My point is that they want the bottom line to be as high as possible, so they won’t be waiting for spending increases in one place to cut elsewhere. There’s no direct causal link between benefits spending and reductions in sales staff (assuming this even is a reduction in sales staff).

      You don’t think that Bell didn’t have a plan up front about such things, having looked at the purchase, and decided that they can better do a number of areas with less people, and as such, the CRTC imposed “tax” would be recovered in a reasonable period?

      Sure. It’s obvious that Bell was going to cut in areas where both companies provided services. And if Bell didn’t think it would make more money with Astral than the benefits plan costed, no way it would have gone through with the deal.

      Reply
      1. Dilbert

        ” There’s no direct causal link between benefits spending and reductions in sales staff (assuming this even is a reduction in sales staff).”

        Did you type that with a straight face? Read your own story ” the position of General Sales Manager has been eliminated.” Straight and simple, there is a sale staff reduction at the highest level – 3 of them in fact. You gotta imagine these guys and girls weren’t working for peanuts.

        ” My point is that they want the bottom line to be as high as possible, so they won’t be waiting for spending increases in one place to cut elsewhere”

        No doubt. But clearly until the Astral buyout, there wasn’t a need or desire to make this cut. So any increase in profitability (or perhaps reduction in cost) is as a result of the deal, and not because things were so bad before. Without the deal, it seems that these people would still have jobs.

        As for a “causal link”, well, like I said – if you didn’t get a press release, I guess it didn’t happen.

        Reply
  5. Pingback: Wayne Bews appointed Retail Sales Manager at CTV Montreal | Fagstein

Leave a Reply