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.

Other cities

Cuts are happening in other cities as well. Since Bell doesn’t exactly put out a press release about this stuff, we have to rely on local reporting to confirm the news:

The Unifor union says about 50 jobs were cut across the country, and lays the blame on the CRTC for allowing Bell to operate like this.

39 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……

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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?

    Reply
    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?

      Yes.

      Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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?

    Reply
  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..

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  8. Anonymous

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

    Reply
    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

      Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
    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.

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
        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.

          Reply
      2. Shirley Hill

        I feel Bell Media is lowering standards on CTV and improving the quality of CTV Two because the latter charges a viewing fee and CTV is included in the “basic price” of cable. Am I being too cynical?

        Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  19. William Hennessy

    Sorry to see things like happen as barry was a great person that everyone enjoyed , but typical of bell, a company i was with for 65 years, they dont give a shit. i left them 5 years ago am happy all the very best barry best years ahead. Merry Christmas.

    Reply
  20. Fred Banner

    They let go cfto sports as well. Cjoh anchors and staff at cici was let go. Nothing was said to bellmedia staff of these moves. Very quietly done.

    Reply
  21. dilbert

    It would be repeating myself to say that the CRTC is reaping what they sowed.

    CTV appears to be headed towards a model where the “local” channel is nothing more than a couple of faces and a couple of camera men and that’s it. Everything else, from programming to actually putting things on the air would be done nationally.

    The potential is that CTV will end up with the National/local news package like Global, with only a very small amount of the news gathered locally, but actually entirely broadcast from Toronto by a very small staff.

    Things like that are efficient and the bottom line looks great. But it breaks the idea that “Local TV Matters” (remember that gem of a scam?), and makes the local stations all but meaningless, reduced to be re transmitters of a national channel.

    My suggestions:

    Mitsumi Takahashi: It’s time to choose to retire on your own plan rather than waiting for Bell to do it for you. It won’t be long before they will make that choice for you. You have been a class act all your career, don’t let them take that from you.

    CTV Sports people: If you work in the sports department of a CTV station of any sort, get your resume done and start looking. You are likely next.

    CRTC: It’s time to look back over your massive mistakes and see if there is any way to take it back

    PM Trudeau: Time to pass new laws to force the break up of the big media players that are neither serving the public directly or the public interest as a whole. Bell, Rogers, and many of the other “big” players are way too big.

    Suggestion: 1 FM and 1 AM, or 1 TV station in any market. No ownership of TV or radio stations if you operate a cable company or other distribution. No ownership of specialty channels if you operate a cable or distribution company.

    Give them 5 years to work it out, and allow more foreign ownership if needed.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      If you work in the sports department of a CTV station of any sort

      CTV Toronto was the last of this. There aren’t any more sports departments at CTV stations.

      CRTC: It’s time to look back over your massive mistakes and see if there is any way to take it back

      I don’t think there’s any one mistake that can be directly linked to this. The Astral takeover didn’t change anything as far as local stations, and CTV has owned TSN for quite a while. The commission can impose licence conditions requiring certain quotas, but it doesn’t like getting into how those conditions are generally met. The latest move was to impose a locally reflective news requirement on TV stations, which will probably do the most to protect local TV journalism jobs (and led to decisions by CTV and City to expand local news), but to go much further would be to put local stations in even further financial peril. CTV Two is already being kept on the air mostly as a charity case. City isn’t even close to making money. The farther the CRTC pushes, the more likely we could see TV networks shut down stations or close up shop entirely.

      Suggestion: 1 FM and 1 AM, or 1 TV station in any market. No ownership of TV or radio stations if you operate a cable company or other distribution. No ownership of specialty channels if you operate a cable or distribution company.

      The rule used to be you could have two of local daily newspaper, TV and radio station, but not three in the same market (which is why Quebecor owns no radio stations). Needless to say newspapers don’t have the same kind of market force as they used to, so a review of this policy would make sense. A review of exemptions (such as allowing Cogeco to own three French-language FM stations in Montreal) might also be due.

      Reply
  22. Anonymous

    I am very much afraid that Toronto is treating Montreal as already separated from Canada. I h ave watched both Montreal and Toronto news more than a few times. There is no comparison. What we had was a news dept. unequalled. They have now destroyed the sports dept. and now the editorial dept. They have extended the news dept. to 2 hours with only enough news for 1 hour barely. I think some genius in Toronto is trying to make CTV the CNN of the great North.
    I am disgusted with the entire CTV channel and have now removed it from my videotron package.

    Reply

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