Post Rogers Shaw Merger, Jobs Are Getting Axed As Ottawa Radio Shuts Down

The all too familiar cycle of mergers leading to layoffs continues as a CityNews Ottawa radio broadcast shuts down.

In the business world, it’s a very familiar pattern. Two large companies merge into one large mega company. Promises are made to say that the number of jobs will increase, there will be better service to customers, and customers will pay lower rates as a result of the consolidation. When regulators finally give the green light after the standard bribery check clears careful consideration, the exact opposite ensues. Massive amounts of layoffs occur as the new larger company hopes to “cut costs” and lack of competition means that there is no incentive to compete for consumer dollars. So, as a result of lack of competition, prices skyrocket and quality of service for consumers plummet. After all, who are the consumers going to go to after in a new monopolistic environment?

In the months leading up to the merger, Industry Minister, François-Philippe Champagne, was basically pretending to give this whole merger idea careful consideration. The pretending was largely just for show to the public because everyone knew that Canada’s competition laws are a joke and the last thing the Liberals would ever want to do is piss off their lobbyist pals. Eventually, the Minister ended his consideration theatre and rubberstamped the merger. It was the final step in proving that Canada’s competition laws are a joke in allowing the last two cable companies to merge into a single monopoly across the country. Canada’s competition laws exist in name only as companies are free to abuse their monopoly powers with impunity.

Part of the consideration theatre was to sell the story that Freedom Mobile would be spun away to Videotron for temporary safe keeping. While it is an interesting note, the move is ultimately a footnote in the grand scheme of things. Even if Freedom Mobile was spun off into an entirely independent company, it ultimately would mean jack all in the grand scheme of things. Coverage of the cell carrier is touch and go and largely centred around big population centres. It’s nowhere near the powerhouse that was Shaw.

Days after the Minister stopped pretending and rubberstamped the deal, the deal was reportedly complete. It reduced the competition of the entire telecommunications sector by 25%, dropping the number of players from 4 to 3. Yes, there are province sized carriers in Saskatchewan and Quebec, but they aren’t national carriers for cellphones and internet service.

It really didn’t take long for the funding cuts to commence. Weeks later, reports surfaced that the new mega company was slashing budgets of Shaw operations.

In a release in 2021, Rogers promised 3,000 jobs:

New technology and network investments will create up to 3,000 net new jobs across Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan

Fast forward two years later and Rogers laid off employees in Alberta:

Osuji & Smith, Calgary Employment Lawyers learned that Rogers laid off multiple employees on June 22 due to restructuring, with a number of former Shaw Communications employees receiving pink slips around the week of June 26.

A Rogers spokesperson confirmed to The Globe and Mail on June 28 that a “small percentage” of the company’s workforce has exited.

“Since coming together with Shaw, we’ve been looking at the structure of the combined company and identified some overlap in corporate roles,” Sarah Schmidt said in a statement.

“While we always try to find other roles for our people, a small percentage of our employees have left the company. As we continue to integrate with Shaw, we’ll thoughtfully minimize duplicate roles and hire staff to support our customers and build our networks.”

While it remains unclear how many employees at the media giant have lost their jobs, our employment lawyers are following up with affected staff to assess their severance packages and ensure that they are receiving full and proper compensation.

In a Reddit post, there were discussions that the layoffs have ballooned into the hundreds:

There were approximately 800 layoffs today with more expected by weeks end the team I’m on my entire team was laid off thankfully I wasn’t but it was messed up

Word of the waves of layoffs across Shaw eventually did reach the media. Last month, there was apparently a strike mandate over fears of more layoffs to come:

Nearly 300 former Shaw technicians absorbed by Rogers Communications Inc. during the companies’ merger have overwhelmingly voted to strike amid concerns over job security following recent layoffs and voluntary departures.

The union representing the workers, who are based in Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey and Langley, B.C., said those job losses call into question Rogers’ commitment to create 3,000 new jobs in Western Canada over five years — a federally mandated condition of the $26-billion takeover.

United Steelworkers union (USW) spokesman Jayson Little said the bargaining unit has seen declining membership over the past five years, which he blamed on the company increasing its reliance on contractors.

“It’s not like the work has disappeared,” he said. “They’ve just started to rely more and more on contractors to do that work.”

Recently, we learned that Rogers is also shuttering radio broadcasts:

Rogers Sports & Media has shut down its CityNews Ottawa radio operations.

In an interview Thursday, Rogers Sports & Media spokesperson Charmaine Khan said the station was challenged with low audiences and revenue decline “over the past several years.”

“These factors, combined with restrictive regulatory framework, offers limited options for AM stations and it put us in a position where it wasn’t viable to continue operating 1310 AM,” Khan said.

Khan said the number of people laid off was “in the single digits.” She would not provide an exact number.

The outlet will maintain an online presence supported by two digital reporters. She said no other Rogers-owned Ottawa radio station was impacted Thursday.

The fact that they are leaving two digital reporters on staff suggests that this has absolutely nothing to do with the Online News Act. If anything, those last two staff were simply fed to the lions since Google is generally expected to drop news links before the end of the year (unless the Canadian government finally partially comes to their senses and delays the law coming into force and, even then, there’s no certainties in all of this). Essentially, for them, it’s more or less hopeless to maintain any digital presence when search engines and platforms will no longer carry your news content. It’s basically two poor saps bailing water on what’s left of a sinking ship unless there are special deals with other operations out there.

None of this is surprising. It does look like Rogers is trying to keep the layoffs out of the headlines by doing the layoffs gradually over time. A dozen here, a few hundred there, maybe a small radio station gets shut down from time to time. In short, cuts that might actually stay out of the headlines in an effort to hope that no one notices. As it turns out, the hacking and slashing didn’t go unnoticed after all. To the surprise of no one, a monopoly is gonna monopoly.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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