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File photo of Bell Media sign. (Darren Goldstein/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
File photo of Bell Media sign. (Darren Goldstein/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Bell sees more cuts in latest round of restructuring Add to ...

Bell continues to reshape its management ranks with a mixture of pain and promotions on Thursday, moving ahead with the latest round in a widespread restructuring that aims to make it more nimble after recent mergers.

George Cope, chief executive officer of BCE Inc., Bell’s parent company, told staff about another wave of “important structural changes” across four divisions in an internal memo that was obtained by The Globe and Mail. Some of the changes are designed to integrate parts of Bell Aliant, which BCE acquired in a privatization move last year.

The changes announced Thursday affect Bell’s small-business, customer service and business markets divisions, as well as Bell Media – the broadcasting and digital arm that has already undergone two rounds of layoffs and hiring among its most senior staff since late August, simplifying the complicated chain of command that took shape after Bell took over Astral Media in 2014.

“The changes announced today execute the strategy that has driven Bell’s transformation into an efficient, innovative and customer-focused competitor in every sector of Canadian communications,” Mr. Cope said in his memo.

The full extent of the job losses is unclear as precise details of the changes were detailed in a series of division-specific memos sent separately to staff, but Thursday’s changes targeted what Bell calls its “CP4” level, which includes general managers and regional vice-presidents among others.

In the executive reshuffle that followed the departure of former Bell Media president Kevin Crull last April, the company made Rizwan Jamal the president of its residential services division, which handles land-line telephone, Internet and television services, separating that business from Bell Mobility.

BCE is now expanding its residential services group to include sales and marketing for small-business services, with Mr. Cope writing in his note that the move “recognizes the many similarities in product and service offerings for small business and residential customers.”

Mr. Cope also said Thursday that the company has “restructured” the sales, service, delivery and wholesale teams at BCE’s enterprise services division, which serves mid-size and large corporate and government customers.

In the media division, the job cuts were felt at “our main offices in Toronto and Montreal, as well as at local stations across the country,” Mary Ann Turcke, president of Bell Media, said in her own memo to staff that was obtained by The Globe.

“These decisions are always difficult, but have been carefully considered in an effort to position our company for future success,” Ms. Turcke said. “... I know this has been a challenging time for everyone.”

In the news and radio division, nine people have been let go, including CTV News Channel general manager Lisa Beaton, and Mark Sikstrom, who was executive producer of product and technology innovation for CTV News, as well as its editor of journalistic policy and practices.

Two Bell spokesmen declined to comment on the changes, other than to confirm that “some departures have happened.”

There have also been several promotions, as Lis Travers takes over Ms. Beaton’s former role after spending 11 years at the helm of CTV’s Canada AM morning show, and former Astral employee Dany Meloul was named vice-president of programming for Frengh-language TV.

“As we continue to streamline functions across our radio and local television properties, we are advancing a new, consolidated approach in which our operations across Canada are divided into three distinct geographical areas,” said a separate memo from Wendy Freeman, president of CTV News, and Randy Lennox, the recently-hired president of entertainment production and broadcasting. The three areas mentioned are Western Canada, Ontario and Atlantic Canada, and Quebec.

Anxious Bell Media employees will now have a short reprieve. “There will be no significant changes for the next six weeks,” Ms. Turcke said in her memo. But there are still “some serious choices to be made” and further cuts to come, affecting staff in less senior and non-management jobs in the latter half of November.

With files from telecom reporter Christine Dobby.

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