February 28th, 2024

Local news cuts at Bell come after it was granted $40M in regulatory relief: St-Onge

By The Canadian Press on February 8, 2024.

Canadian Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge speaks to reporters on Parliament Hill after Bell Media announces job cuts, in Ottawa on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle

OTTAWA – Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge is accusing Bell Media of breaking its promise to invest in local news after the company was granted more than $40 million in annual regulatory relief.

That’s the same amount the company says its news division, which includes CTV News and BNN Bloomberg, is losing annually.

Facing $40 million in annual operating losses, Bell Media is cutting 4,800 jobs amid across-the-board cuts at parent company BCE Inc., which has higher overall operating revenue than a year ago.

The company is laying the blame for cuts at the feet of regulators and policymakers.

But St-Onge says the government has worked to help the news industry, and at some point companies have to chip in, too.

The Liberal government’s new Online Streaming Act came into effect last April and abolished certain licensing fees, which St-Onge says will save the company some $40 million a year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 8, 2024.

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