CTV Montreal GM Louis Douville swept out in next wave of Bell Media purge

Louis Douville

A dramatic top-down purge at Bell Media, that swept out top executives Phil King (programming), Chris Gordon (radio and local TV), Adam Ashton and Charles Benoit (top man in Quebec) in August, then people like Discovery Channel head Paul Lewis and Quebec content chief Mario Clément in September, has now filtered down another level, and more managers are getting the boot.

They include the heads of specialty channels Canal Vie (Lyne Denault), Z (Jacques Mathieu) and CTV News Channel (Lisa Beaton), regional managers in Atlantic Canada (Mike Elgie), Abitibi (Marlène Trottier), Victoria (Kevin Bell), Peterborough (Steve Fawcett), Edmonton (Lloyd Lewis) and Windsor (Eric Proksch), and Louis Douville, the general manager of CTV Montreal. (Jean Martin, the manager for the Mauricie region, is also leaving, but that departure is being announced separately as a retirement.)

A Bell Media spokesperson said Martin Spalding, vice-president of radio operations and local sales in Quebec, would take over Douville’s duties. But an internal memo also listed Jed Kahane, CTV Montreal’s news director, as taking Douville’s reports “in the interim”. Those three words prompted a lot of speculation about who might be on the chopping block when the next round of cuts happen.

That is expected to be in about six weeks, which doesn’t exactly leave Bell Media employees in a relaxed state.

Douville, who grew up in Montreal, has been general manager of CTV Montreal since January 2012, taking over from Don Bastien. Before that he was general manager of CTV Ottawa for almost 11 years, and before that worked in sales at CTV stations in Edmonton and Saskatchewan. In all, he worked for CTV for 30 years.

He had recently taken over additional responsibilities, running the Bell Local (now Bell TV1) community channels in Montreal as well as Bell’s radio stations in the city.

On a personal level, I’ll add that Douville was a very good source, never ducking my phone calls, always helpful, always willing to explain the tough decisions and being honest about how things work, while other managers would try to avoid talking about bad news or find some way to obfuscate the issue. For that I’ll miss him.

Bell says these changes are necessary to remain competitive (even though it’s the largest media company in Canada) and operate efficiently. This despite the fact that Bell Media’s profits (before interest and taxes) increased to $734 million last year and $215 million in the last quarter.

UPDATE: Douville wrote a message to his friends on Facebook and forwarded it to me:

It reads like the script for the final episode of the television program The Amazing Race…
4 Provinces…7 Cities…7,266 Kilometres…33 years…Hundreds of amazing colleagues…Thousands of brilliant business partners… An incredibly supportive family…And one Amazing career !

This week my great adventure with Bell Media came to an end, and what a ride it has been !!!

I have been so fortunate to work in the field of my choice for so many years, growing through the ranks until I attained the goals I had set for myself.

I learned so much along the way, mostly about the importance of treating people like human beings, recognizing the contribution my colleagues made every day, and creating a work environment where people thrive and are happy to come to work.

Now it is time to look to the future and see what new and exciting adventures await me.
No matter what they are, I will always stay true to my values and I will always enjoy every minute of every day.

Thank you to all of you who have crossed my path over the years, you have truly enriched my life and made me a better man.

I look forward to seeing you soon !
Louis

19 thoughts on “CTV Montreal GM Louis Douville swept out in next wave of Bell Media purge

  1. Ely Bonder

    He is a man who genuinely looked to understand what makes his employees tick, and encouraged their passions. I am sorry to hear this news. Lache-
    pas, Jed !

    Reply
  2. John

    Media industries don’t run themselves…in the long run the overworked bare-bone staff will catch up to the profits..

    Reply
  3. Dilbert

    Absolutely no surprises here at all. Bell is doing exactly what any greedy company does when it gets too big a share of the marketplace: They thin the ranks to increase profits.

    The probability here is that most of the jobs are replaced not on the same level, but with someone paid a lot less and given less control over their universe. In other words, replace leaders with office clerks. Clerks are cheaper, they don’t complain as much, and when they do, you can replace them easily. You can bet that in each case, the replacement player will get paid less, will have less power in their job, and generally won’t be of the same stature.

    The biggest potential here is for flattening. That would mean having the people who reported to Douville instead reporting to the suits in Toronto directly, and having Spalding be the “eyes on the ground” to watch over the results and report back as it happens.

    The bigger question may be who takes over from Spalding on the radio side – or if in fact his job just melts away as a needless duplication of some other post in Toronto. Moving him to TV side seems to suggest a very good future for people who come across as “good company men” (spelled “yes”), and not so much for anyone expecting to have a high end job anywhere outside of Toronto.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Clerks are cheaper, they don’t complain as much, and when they do, you can replace them easily.

      Since CTV is a union shop, and management positions are not unionized, I would think it’s actually harder to replace a clerk than a manager.

      The bigger question may be who takes over from Spalding on the radio side

      No one. He’s in charge of both TV and radio.

      Reply
      1. Dilbert

        By clerk I mean someone who is basically there to process paper and apply the directions from afar, not someone who actually has power. They very likely would still be “management” but at such a low level as to be meaningless.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          They very likely would still be “management” but at such a low level as to be meaningless.

          Managers need staff, otherwise they’re not managers. This is usually spelled out in collective agreements. I find it hard to see what kind of manager could be meaningless, or why when Bell Media is drastically cutting the number of managers it would hire someone for a meaningless managerial job.

          Reply
          1. fred

            I think he means someone who gets the title,gets half the pay, and no real power. Instead all the shots are called from Toronto.

            Reply
            1. Fagstein Post author

              I think he means someone who gets the title,gets half the pay, and no real power. Instead all the shots are called from Toronto.

              Hasn’t that been the case for a while now? Middle managers having to answer to upper managers has been a thing ever since middle managers were invented.

              Reply
              1. Dilbert

                Alas, the concept is simple. The people who are getting tosses out are ones who (perhaps in the past) had power and continued to wield a certain amount of power and control over their fiefdoms. Tossing them out pretty much paves the way to flatten to organization and make each of those pieces of the puzzle just a little more corporate.

                What that translates to in operating terms may be something as simple as more integration and loss of individuality. Having someone higher up the chain effectively calling the shots are more properties pretty much gets us there.

                Moreover, the choice of Martin Spalding is very interesting, considering he seems to have been near or around when people have been re-org’d out the door. He certainly appears to be one of the survivors in this who Bell / Astral fiasco, and appears to be thriving working in a world where self-determination and “local market” variation isn’t particularly encouraged.

                My guess: The CTV news sports “department” gets shit canned to allow for better promotion of TSN radio. That’s a whole other set of redundancies to deal with. I could also very much picture weather becoming a canned product from Toronto, the costs would be much lower and the information similar. Again, eliminate a whole bunch of people, technical requirements, and make it easier for Toronto to better control the content and image in the local market.

              2. Fagstein Post author

                The people who are getting tosses out are ones who (perhaps in the past) had power and continued to wield a certain amount of power and control over their fiefdoms.

                So, in other words, managers are managers? Do you have any evidence that people who exerted more “control” were more likely to get fired?

                Moreover, the choice of Martin Spalding is very interesting, considering he seems to have been near or around when people have been re-org’d out the door.

                Isn’t everyone “around” when there’s a management shuffle?

                My guess: The CTV news sports “department” gets shit canned to allow for better promotion of TSN radio.

                CTV’s job isn’t to promote TSN Radio. And the most popular newscast in town isn’t going to abandon its sports department of three people for no reason.

                I could also very much picture weather becoming a canned product from Toronto, the costs would be much lower and the information similar.

                Fire Lori and all hell will break loose. The local weather presenter is a personality, especially at this station. The efficiency gained in replacing her with a Toronto-based presenter is negligible. And unlike Global, CTV isn’t centralizing on-air staff like that.

                That’s not to say there can’t be more integration with other parts of Bell Media. More cooperation with TSN, for example.

  4. Media Man

    By ” in the interim” does that mean, Jed Kahane is on the blocks.. or other employees..but they’re already thin at the station, now a shadow of its mighty self from the 70’s and 80’s..

    Are the radio Program Directors being looked at..I heard that the Virgin PD should be looking over his shoulder..will they have just one PD for CHOM-Virgin, like Chris Bury for CJAD?TSN Radio ?

    A legitimate question.

    Reply
  5. Jon

    Quite a shame to read about this and rather questionable timing with the elections coming up. Judging on how you knew him personally, perhaps he would have been able to address my inquiry below, even though it might be off topic here.

    So I’m looking at the advanced listings for October 19, and I see that CTV is planning seven straight hours of live election coverage beginning at 7:00pm ET/8:00pm AT. While CTV’s regular primetime lineup gets moved over to CTV Two for that one night only. As it stands right now, it will be pre-empted here in Montreal, along with Winnipeg and Saskatchewan as these markets do not broadcast CTV Two locally.

    Now if previous elections have been any indication, live news coverage usually begins a little later in the evening, just as the polling stations close (apparently they’re open until 9:30pm this time). Meanwhile, earlier hours can be used for time-shifting of some primetime shows, as in the case of what Global is doing – their coverage is scheduled for 9:00pm. And in the case of provincial elections, any pre-empted programs are shifted for post-release airings later during the week – usually the following Saturday where nothing other than reruns are scheduled.

    Keeping my fingers crossed that this may change as CTV puts out a release or announcement as we get close to election day.

    Out of curiosity, is there a way that you can contact someone at CTV Montreal and verify their plans regarding this or is this out of their control and it will be left up to the bigger folks in Toronto?

    One last thing – I totally agree with your comment about Lori. There would be considerable backlash and repercussions not only with the station but its viewers.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Now if previous elections have been any indication, live news coverage usually begins a little later in the evening, just as the polling stations close (apparently they’re open until 9:30pm this time).

      The first polls close in Newfoundland at 8:30pm local time, which is 7pm Eastern.

      And in the case of provincial elections, any pre-empted programs are shifted for post-release airings later during the week – usually the following Saturday where nothing other than reruns are scheduled.

      That’s an option, though it doesn’t look like CTV is airing any of those episodes later in the week. So you’ll probably have to catch them on CTV Two, CTV.ca, the CTV GO app or the originating U.S. network.

      Reply
  6. Media Man

    So Steve, have you heard anything about the next round of layoffs today, as I understood that Bell Media sent their mass layoff notice yesterday to the Feds according to the Canada Labour Code..

    If I recall it was around 100-125 persons in the Montreal stations.. And a lot more in Toronto.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      So Steve, have you heard anything about the next round of layoffs today, as I understood that Bell Media sent their mass layoff notice yesterday to the Feds according to the Canada Labour Code..

      That is correct. The Globe and Mail has details.

      We won’t know for a while who exactly is losing their jobs. Bell Media’s Montreal workforce includes CTV Montreal, RDS, Canal Vie, Canal D, Z, Vrak, CJAD, TSN 690, CHOM, Virgin Radio, Énergie, Rouge FM and probably a few other things I’m forgetting.

      Reply
  7. Pingback: Bell Media cutting hundreds of jobs, including 110 in Montreal | Fagstein

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