Bell Media is once again juggling its executives as president Mary Ann Turcke departs for a job with the National Football League and Randy Lennox, who spent three decades at Universal Music Canada, steps into her role.
Ms. Turcke is relocating to Los Angeles to become president of digital media and the NFL Network and Bell said Monday that Mr. Lennox, the long-time music executive who joined the company as president of broadcasting and content in September, 2015, is taking over her role immediately.
The NFL and Bell Media, a division of Montreal-based telecommunications giant BCE Inc., have worked closely together in recent months to fight a regulatory ruling that barred Bell from substituting its own television signal and Canadian ads over the U.S. signal during this year’s Super Bowl.
Ms. Turcke, an engineer by background who has been with BCE for 12 years, assumed the top job at Bell Media in April, 2015, following Kevin Crull’s dismissal after he intervened in news coverage at the company’s television stations.
She presided over a challenging time at the division as the company reorganized its executive reporting structure and cut hundreds of jobs in an effort to rein in expenses and counter ongoing declines in advertising revenue.
Mr. Lennox – who came in as part of the executive shuffle and replaced a number of senior figures responsible for television and radio – was charged with forging a new path for the company’s content strategy.
In an interview with The Globe and Mail last fall, he described his approach as bringing “some IP-based thinking” to the division, referring to intellectual property and saying he would emphasize creating more of its own content as well as finding ways to give the telecom company’s wireless customers easy access to on-demand audio and video.
Some of his moves to date include striking a long-term deal with iHeartRadio – bringing the free U.S. digital music streaming service to Canada and providing a vehicle for Bell’s vast network of radio stations and a platform for new kinds of advertising – as well as launching CTV’s Your Morning, replacing the national morning show Canada AM with less emphasis on news and a more friendly environment for product placement.
The company has also branched into live musical theatre under Mr. Lennox’s leadership, entering into a partnership with Iconic Entertainment Studios that kicked off with Bat Out of Hell: The Musical, a production based on the music of Meat Loaf that began previews in Manchester, England this month.
Bell Media spokesman Scott Henderson said Monday neither Ms. Turcke nor Mr. Lennox were available for an interview.
In an e-mailed statement, Mr. Lennox said he was honoured by the opportunity, adding he looks forward to “building on Mary Ann’s success and expanding our leadership position in the industry.”
In a separate statement released by the NFL, Ms. Turcke said she was “thrilled” to join the league, which she called “one of the greatest and most exciting brands in the world.”
“We are delighted to have an individual of Mary Ann’s talent and expertise joining the NFL,” said Roger Goodell, the league’s commissioner, who praised Ms. Turcke’s broad experience in broadcast as well as telecom operations.
Bell owns the Canadian TV rights to the Super Bowl and the company said its ratings fell by 39 per cent this year, the first year the regulatory policy on ads came into effect, as viewers had the option to tune to the U.S. feed and watch the high-budget American ads. The change meant a loss of advertising dollars for Bell and will likely erode the value of the NFL’s rights in Canada. In addition to legal challenges, Bell Media and the NFL mounted a publicity campaign in recent months in an effort to convince the federal government to change the policy but have so far been unsuccessful.Report Typo/Error