Bell Media President Brings Shame to CTV

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By Harvey Oberfeld

Keeping it Real…

April 7th, 2015 

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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.

Harv Oberfeld

2 COMMENTS

  1. If Crull is still the head of CTV the next time the license comes up for renewal, I hope this episode is brought to light again and presented to the CRTC, just as a way of showing what type of company they’re dealing with. Though, to be fair, Crull was probably not having a good day when he decided to go on this little power trip and attempt to influence the CTV news division. Why, that dastardly CRTC had rankled his feathers with their unfair pick-and-pay decision, something that would have a direct impact on the size of his bonuses in the future, no wonder he was in a snit.

    But really, perhaps Crull should be focusing more on managing the company that is CTV rather than micromanaging the news so it conforms to his opinions. Sit down and pay attention to the ratio of commercial time to promo time that airs on CTV. For a business that’s based on advertising, it’s actually quite shocking to see how much time is literally thrown away on promos in each commercial block. There is a very small chunk of prime time which gets completely sold, but other than that, there are plenty of avails across their broadcast day.

    If Crull were to allow the GSM’s to reevaluate their rates, to more accurately reflect the economic realities in each of the markets CTV serves, perhaps the sales department might be able to actually sell time to LOCAL businesses, instead of being reliant on national dollars (which are shrinking). Sure, those LOCAL spots wouldn’t command the same high dollar value as a national, but it would still be revenue, something which is lacking each and every time you run yet another promo spot for The Marilyn Dennis Show or The Social.

    But hey, Crull knows his business better than I do. I just feel sorry for all the looming layoffs at CTV (which are coming very soon, trust me. If you know anybody working at a CTV outlet, simply ask them about the general mood amongst their co-workers. Operations, traffic, news, there’s a whole lot of cutting coming soon).

  2. the real star is the Globe and Mail for publishing, given that Bell owns a large chunk of the paper. And the president of ctv news is not a leader, but not a real surprise

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