By Harvey Oberfeld
This cannot be left to pass as just another news story …moving along the conveyor belt of public information, falling off at the end … and forgotten.
Bell Media President Kevin Crull has thrown the very integrity and credibility of CTV News into doubt.
When the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission made its long-awaited decision on unbundling cable t.v. packages, Crull … President of Bell Media, which OWNS CTV … INTERFERED in the way CTV reported the story.
CRTC Chair Jean-Pierre Blais gave a CTV reporter a six-minute interview on the decision, but sources revealed Crull called CTV News President Wendy Freeman and reportedly told her not to air anything more from Blais on the air for the rest of the day.
CENSORSHIP! INTERFERENCE in the “News”! From the President of the company that runs Canada’s largest private broadcaster. In my view, that’s what Crull did.
And how did Freeman respond?
Did the CTV News President refuse? No. Did she resign in protest? No.
Freeman is said, instead, to have gone along.
She reportedly informed CTV staff of Crull’s directive and told them not to use clips of Blais. She also apparently even expressed concern she and other CTV employees would be fired if they violated the ordered ban.
Some journalists!!!! Some News President!!!
So MOST stories on the HUGE CRTC decision that day carried NO coverage of comments/explanation from the CRTC Chair. The exception …to THEIR credit … CTV’s Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife and Chief Anchor Lisa LaFlamme …and finally Freeman … decided they could NOT run their 11 p.m. national newscast without Blais … so they used a clip from him.
That’s NOT good enough.
Because ALL this may not have ever even become known had it not been for … NOT CTV’s reporting …but reporting by the Globe and Mail newspaper, which broke the story. And Crull, not surprisingly, would not grant the Globe an interview to explain or defend his own actions , in my view, increasing the network’s shame.
However, all the REAL story hit the fan, the Bell Media President apologized … in a written statement, not even on his own TV network … like so many other miscreant politicians, polluters and scandalized business officials have been seen to do before CTV cameras AFTER their behind-the-scenes evil deeds have been brought to light.
Crull insisted the intention of his “reaching out” (LOL!!!) was not to interfere editorially but just to urge them to focus on the “broad and necessary discussion of the impacts of the CRTC’s decisions on consumers, our team members and our business.”
I feel like throwing up.
Crull’s actions place in jeopardy CTV News’ very credibility: how can we trust that there are not other Bell corporate influences affecting their news decisions; why did ALMOST ALL of its SENIOR news staff just go along with the directive; with such weak News leadership, do major advertisers have similar influences on what is covered and what is not; do senior politicians and high-ranking government/party officials have any bosses’ ears?
But is CTV alone?
Frankly I can’t help but wonder …in light of today’s control of so many “news” radio, t.v., print operations/networks by huge multi-media conglomerate corporations … if there is similar interferences or influences at play from the brass at other news deliverers as well.
Whenever it occurs, we can only hope that the REAL journalists who are still out there will leak the information to a “competitor” … so that the culprits will be exposed, unmasked and shamed … and the public’s right to the truth will be protected.