CTV Montreal lays off executive producer Barry Wilson, CHOM drops Picard

Updated Nov. 16 with comment from Wilson, and news of other cuts.

Barry Wilson (CTV photo)

Barry Wilson is no longer an employee of Bell Media.

The executive producer of CTV Montreal, who viewers saw once a week during his Postscript opinion segments, has been with the station for decades, but his position has been eliminated, Bell Media confirmed to me today. Staff were told about the dismissal during the day.

“The position was eliminated as a cost-saving measure,” explains Matthew Garrow, director of communications for news and local stations at Bell Media. “Barry’s executive producer responsibilities will be assumed by (news director) Jed Kahane.”

“I worked with some of the best people in the business and am thankful for that,” Wilson told me Thursday after what he described as a “strange week.”

“It’s been a good run. Who knows what the next step is but I am not retired.”

He similarly updated his Twitter bio to say “Thanks to everyone who supported my efforts over the years. Not done yet.”

Wilson’s dismissal follows the elimination of the entire sports department this summer, and comes just two months after the expansion of CTV Montreal’s evening newscast to two hours. The general manager position had also been eliminated previously, so Kahane is filling a lot of jobs now (including dealing with viewers angry about Wilson’s dismissal).

A petition has been started and already has more than 600 signatures. As with previous petitions, this won’t change anything, but will probably make Wilson feel better.

Other jobs were also eliminated at CTV Montreal — assignment editor Amalia Fernandez and researcher Peter Schiavi. And cuts were made across the street at Bell Media radio. Most are off-air jobs but one casualty appears to be Picard, the music director at CHOM, who has undergone the ritual scrubbing of existence on CHOM’s website.

Cuts are happening in other cities as well. They include Melissa Lamb at CTV Morning Live in Ottawa. There’s also word that CTV Toronto will cut its sports department by the end of 2017.

31 thoughts on “CTV Montreal lays off executive producer Barry Wilson, CHOM drops Picard

  1. Kathy

    Just another example of Bell Medias treatment of long time employees. The bottom line is all they are interested in. They treat their employees like numbers not people……

  2. Rob Braide

    Barry is one of the really great broadcast journalists. I bumped into him today and he gave me the news…pardon the pun. He’s got over 40 years in the business and he will be missed on Friday evenings. Global, City or CBC would be very smart to bring him on board. Another cut of a talented and respected broadcaster. I’d change channels to find him.

  3. Patrick Benoît

    Why don’t they just shut down the station altogether? Does anyone really watch the dried corpse of CFCF 12 anymore? Toronto killed it. Their disdain and jealousy of Montréal displayed with every crippling blow. To be honest, I haven’t watched in about 15 years, since they changed it to a full CTV O&O. They took away everything good that made CFCF 12 unique and worth watching and turned it into another one of their O&O clones. The news is UNBEARABLE to watch: cheap, dry and slopped together thoughtlessly.

    This, folks, is what happens when a phone company buys a TV station to become its advertising billboard. The only thing holding CTV together is its history and former “prestige”. But even that won’t hold forever. How long until the channel is converted into a 24-hour cycle of Bell commercials?

    1. Fagstein Post author

      Why don’t they just shut down the station altogether?

      Because it makes money.

      Does anyone really watch the dried corpse of CFCF 12 anymore?


  4. jillianpage

    Yah, because poor BCE is only netting a billion a quarter, give or take some. And they do love to play Scrooge just before Xmas, eh. Just one more reason to tune out Ma Bell, I guess.

  5. Edmund Gleason eddygeeeeeee.com

    always enjoyed his segments.Tough business when a multibillion dollar company feels it has to shed a salary of a talented person to save what,$100,00?

  6. Mediaman

    This is so bloody terrible.. Does Bell have no shame. Cost cutting, and they’ve got money coming out of where the sun don’t shine..

    And who is this Matthew Garrow dude? What’s his background in news like veterans like Wilson, Kahane, Mutsumi, etc? Has he ever seen a newsroom?

    This passes me off..

  7. Anonymous

    Very sorry to hear this. At this point, I’m not sure what this ‘Montreal’ station/newscast is even supposed to represent. If Bell can’t seem to actually employ anyone in the city it’s operating in, they should just get a John Tesh robot and put it on the air every day.

  8. Anonymous

    Bell profits in the millions. Barry Wilson’s salary saves them dough? How is this so, you dipstick bean counters at Bell?

    1. Ex employee

      It is very simple: Bell expects each division to be individually profitable, so the News should make as much money as the cell phone providers.

      The fact that they have no sales people who even realize that CTV has a news show or a website doesn’t matter

  9. Liz Ferguson

    Sorry to hear this, but glad to see several Montreal media people putting in a good word for Barry Wilson and protesting this penny-pinching move. Bell charges enough for their various services; you’d think that they could easily afford his salary, whatever it might be.

  10. Mike L

    Every year now in November the budget will get smaller for our local radio and TV stations, with yearly staff cuts. All Montreal stations are already running with minimal staff.

  11. Suzanne Desautels

    This cuts me to the quick. Very few in Montreal have Barry’s level of experience. Pathetic treatment of so many who have contributed so much to the Montreal media landscape.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      According to the annual report, parent company BCE Inc. made $3.087 billion in net earnings in 2016.

      Bell Media, which owns CTV and other broadcasting assets, had $743 million in profit (adjusted EBITDA).

      According to the CRTC financial disclosure, Bell Media’s conventional television operations (CTV and CTV Two) had a $5.5 million operating profit on $717 million in revenue, but with depreciation taken into account that came to a $33.4 million loss.

      1. Patrick Benoît

        Your reply to my question: “Why don’t they just shut down the station altogether?” was:

        “Because it makes money.”

        So, are they making money or losing $33.4 million? Because as far as I know, you can’t do both.

        1. Fagstein Post author

          So, are they making money or losing $33.4 million?

          It depends on what “they” means. Are you talking about BCE, Bell Media, CTV, CTV Montreal, CTV Montreal’s newscasts, or something else? And what do you mean by “making money”? What counts as revenue and expenses? Are we talking operating profit (EBITDA), PBIT, pre-tax profit or after-tax profit?

          The math gets complicated when we’re talking about big companies.

  12. Elaine Barnes

    I am absolutely shocked. These people have no soul. Barry Wilson was like a breath of fresh air and I made sure to listen to him every Friday. What a way to end a man’s career. These very people concerned only with the bottom line will probably find themselves one day in the same situation. No respect for experience, older workers, only the bottom line. How callous.
    Shame on Bell Media.

  13. Leah Lafrance

    Letting Barry Wilson go is pulling the very heart and soul out of CTV news. If Bell is trying to cut costs, it has cut the wrong wire. Whoever made this decision clearly is disconnected from reality. Mr. Wilson is a brilliant man. His views, opinions and leadership are what the viewers rely upon to follow and make sense at what is happening in our city. He has an extraordinary ability to connect with people and his opinions are important to the viewer. The time has come to now switch the channel. P.S. Mr. Wilson you will be missed immensely. You have made a difference in our world of understanding news and politics in a simplistic way and thank you for the many years you have devoted to us, the viewers. Chapeau.

  14. Anonymous

    Terrible news. They have let another veteran go! CTV – at this rate the viewers will all leave also. Barry Wilson was /is an asset. Very disappointed.
    Shirley Gans

  15. Lance Campeau

    Another bean counter move by CTorontoV… Local Montreal TV is dying a slow and painful death allright.. But I certainly don’t expect Bell to be a leader by trying to maintain a higher standard… Its clear that profit means everything and talent means nothing. A truly pathetic excuse for a media company. Just look what they did to CJAD.

  16. Bev

    CTV over the last little while has taken some very radical steps and not for the better. First, the dissolution of their sports team and now this laying-off of Barry Wilson. Mr. Wilson was an integral part of the CTV news team and will be sorely missed. His easy, calm way of delivering an informative yet comprehensible editorial of the Montreal’s weekly news was a pleasure to listen to and something I looked forward to every Friday. I honestly believe that this move by Bell Media was not in the best interests of Montrealers and I, for one, will be looking elsewhere for my news. It is too bad that CTV has gone this route as they may lose many devote followers. Good luck Mr. Wilson with all future endeavors.

  17. J

    What they have done to CFCF-DT 12 (CTV) is just terrible. The CRTC should review it’s past approvals, and perhaps force Bell Media to sell off certain OTA stations. They certainly are not serving their broadcast market as they use to.

    You know this station has fallen way below what it once was when CKMI-DT 15 (Global) managed to cover the municipal elections better than CFCF. And also managed to use their Focus Montreal program to give some much needed attention to the smaller races in their broadcast area. I even spotted Brian Wilde on CKMI-DT doing some Sports commentary. Not sure what’s up with that.

  18. Mediaman

    Whoa, Picard, Amy Fernandez , and Peter Schiavi, so sorry for these as well as for Barry, having dealt with all of them for a variety of professional reasons..

    As for Picard’s position, who’s gonna take care of the music stuff, surely not Chris Bury, I mean what does he know about rock in general, and the classics in particular? Not much probably.

    But one logical question here, and we know that BCE and all their subsidiaries are run by bean counters, and now this seems now to have become an annual ritual of firings, which is what this is.
    But why does it have to be done every year just a month before Christmas??

    I hope Jean-pierre Blais is proud of the Bell Astral merger.


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