With a shakeup in its senior ranks, Bell Media is seeking to be more agile with a leaner executive team and cleaner reporting structure as it adapts to a period of rapid change for the industry.
Gone are Phil King, the influential president of CTV, sports and entertainment, and three other senior figures who oversaw television and radio. Arriving in their place is Randy Lennox, a well-connected figure from the entertainment business, to a new role leading production, radio and local TV.
The restructuring lets Bell Media president Mary Ann Turcke, an engineer by training with a background in sales and field operations, put her stamp on the division. It streamlines management by giving her direct reporting lines to key figures who previously worked for Mr. King, and shuffles out some of those who were closest to her predecessor, Kevin Crull.
Ms. Turcke became president in April when Mr. Crull was dismissed, three weeks after The Globe and Mail reported that he had tried to intervene in news coverage of an important regulatory decision.
"Our plan to re-energize Bell Media will affect all levels of our organization," Ms. Turcke said in a memo to staff, promising that there will be more departures to come in September and October at the vice-president and director levels.
A spokesperson for Bell Media declined a request to interview Ms. Turcke or Mr. Lennox. But Jay Switzer, chairman and co-founder of broadcasting company Hollywood Suite Inc. and the former head of CHUM Ltd. before its assets were sold to Bell, said Ms. Turcke "must be under tremendous pressure to reinvent the business."
"Their ratings have probably never been stronger, and yet the advertising side of the business year over year is very challenged and going down, no matter how high their ratings," Mr. Switzer said.
Leaving Bell along with Mr. King, who built his career at TSN and kept CTV atop the ratings race, were Adam Ashton, the senior vice-president of English TV and business operations; Chris Gordon, president of radio and local TV; and Charles Benoît, most recently president of TV and radio in Quebec.
Another factor was the chance to shed substantial salary costs by pushing out four executives and hiring just one back, at a moment when Bell Media has put a premium on efficiency. Revenue in the division fell 2.8 per cent in the last quarter, as advertising revenue sagged and content costs rose, while the impact of regulatory changes to the TV industry and shifting viewing habits loom on the horizon.
"Bell Media's cost structure must reflect the realities of revenue performance in media and broadcasting," Ms. Turcke said in her memo.
The changes effectively remove a layer of management between Ms. Turcke and three respected executives who steer some of Bell Media's most important assets: CTV and CraveTV programing head Mike Cosentino, specialty and pay TV network boss Tracey Pearce, and TSN president Stewart Johnston. They all now report directly to Ms. Turcke, having previously answered to Mr. King.
Te shuffle continues a changing of the guard at Canada's largest media companies. In July, long-time Bell Media executive Rick Brace, who mentored Mr. King earlier in his career, was named president of Rogers Media, succeeding Keith Pelley, who left to run a professional golf tour in Europe.
Enter Mr. Lennox, the long-time president and chief executive officer at Universal Music Canada, who takes over the production and radio functions of the portfolio vacated by Mr. King, with whom he is good friends. Mr. Lennox has little experience in the TV industry, but Ms. Turcke said he has first-hand experience of the radical disruption to the music business.
"He's a guy who's managed to navigate those waters," said John Barrack, strategic counsel and partner at Don Carmody Television. "And the learning that takes place in that industry may hopefully be applicable to ours."
A whip-smart and well-known executive who built his career in sports at TSN and became a force in prime time programming.
A promising manager who led successful coverage of the 2012 Olympic Games and was considered by some to be a potential future leader of Bell Media.
A 17-year veteran of the company who oversaw Bell's English-language radio and local TV operations, his departure caught industry insiders off guard.
A former executive vice-president at Astral Radio, he most recently oversaw French-language radio and local TV in Quebec.
A prominent figure in the country's popular music scene who led Universal Music Canada for the past 15 years, helping turn artists such as Justin Bieber, Drake and Shania Twain into stars.
Who's gained sway:
Head of programming at CTV Networks and online streaming service CraveTV, he is now the leading force in acquiring popular shows, from Hollywood and from Canada.
Head of specialty and pay TV networks, she is now solely responsible for key channels like HBO Canada, The Movie Network and Space.
The president of TSN, who takes Mr. King's place as the leading authority on sports as his network looks to adapt to the loss of national NHL broadcast rights.
Editor's note: Jay Switzer's title has been corrected in the online version of this story.