CTV’s Laflamme & Fife Pushed Back Against Bosses, Bell Head Apologizes

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“The Canadian Association of Journalists commends CTV’s chief anchor Lisa Laflamme and Ottawa bureau chief Robert Fife for standing against a reported attempt to interfere with their news coverage by corporate owners Bell Media.

The Globe and Mail reported Bell Media president Kevin Crull — which owns CTV — called the president of the network, advising her he was in charge of this file and Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission chairman Jean-Pierre Blais was not to be interviewed again on the pick-and-pay decision.

Laflamme and Fife defied the order and stood up for journalism, their colleagues’ work and the public’s right to know……”

The president of Bell Media has apologized for interfering in news coverage at CTV, following a rare public rebuke by the chair of Canada’s television regulator.

Bell Media president Kevin Crull  has apologized for interfering in news coverage at CTV following a rare public rebuke by the chair of the CRTC.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
                      Bell President Kevin Crull   photo credit ADRIAN WYLD / THE CANADIAN PRESS

By:, Staff Reporter, Toronto Star  March 26 2015

 

The president of Bell Media has apologized for interfering in news coverage at CTV, following a rare public rebuke by the chair of Canada’s television regulator.

“It was wrong of me to be anything but absolutely clear that editorial control always rests with the news team,” Kevin Crull said in a statement Wednesday evening.

“I have apologized to the team directly for this mistake.”

Crull had decreed last Thursday that no interviews or footage of Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission chair Jean-Pierre Blais air on CTV, shortly after Blais made an appearance on BNN, a business news station that is also owned by Bell Media, a source told the Star.

The source said Crull was furious at the CRTC’s decision to unbundle cable packages, which could prove to be painful for BCE Inc., Bell Media’s parent company.

A report in the Globe and Mail of Crull’s order to CTV News President Wendy Freeman sparked what would appear to be an unprecedented public reaction from Blais, who said in a statement Wednesday afternoon that “the allegation … that the largest communication company in Canada is manipulating news coverage is disturbing.”

CRTC watchers told the Star they couldn’t recall another chair publicly wading into a controversy.

“In 30 years, I’ve not seen a press release like this,” said Jon Festinger, a Vancouver-based lawyer and professor and former CTV senior vice-president. “Often, what you might see is a call to a hearing to deal with a specific issue, but this does seem very different and pretty extraordinary.”

Late Wednesday, as the long-standing tensions between Bell Media and the CRTC turned into a public spat, Crull sent out this explanation:

“I reached out to the CTV News leadership team to let them know I felt the focus on the CRTC itself by CTV and other Canadian news organizations would be better placed on a broad and necessary discussion of the impacts of the CRTC’s decisions on consumers, our team members, and our business,” read his statement.

He went on to say: “Indeed their strong and straightforward reaction to my intrusion only heightens my appreciation of their independence, integrity and professionalism.”

Crull said CTV’s coverage of the CRTC’s decisions was fair, balanced and extensive.

A Bell Media spokesman said Crull and Freeman would not be available for interviews.

READ MORE  HERE  AT THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITE

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/03/25/bell-media-president-apologizes-for-interfering-in-ctv-news-coverage.html

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