March 25, 2015

Bell exec intervened in CTV News coverage of CRTC "pick and pay" decision (UPDATED)

Brian LilleyArchive

(2:45 pm ET UPDATE below) The CRTC decision allowing consumers to pick and pay for the cable package they want so infuriated a Bell Media executive that he forbade his prime network from airing comments by CRTC chair Jean-Pierre Blais.

According to The Globe and Mail, which is 15 percent owned by Bell's parent company BCE, Bell Media executive Kevin Crull shut down further coverage that included Blais.

Shortly after the announcement, CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais appeared on BNN, a Bell Media-owned business news station, for a six-minute interview with reporter Greg Bonnell.

Almost immediately, Mr. Crull called Wendy Freeman, the president of CTV News, according to sources close to the network who spoke on condition of anonymity. Mr. Crull told Ms. Freeman he was in charge of the network and that Mr. Blais was not to appear on air again that day, according to accounts of the exchange.

According to the report, an interview with Blais on Power Play, a daily political show, was cancelled and a news report for the 6pm newscast also had Blais' comments removed.

Citing unnamed sources, The Globe reports that CTV's chief anchor Lisa Laflamme, Ottawa Bureau Chief Bob Fife and Freeman decided to ignore the ban on Blais, feeling they couldn't properly cover such a big story without comments from the CRTC chair.

Asked to verify the reports Bell spokesman Scott Henderson told The Globe that Bell's various news outlets covered the CRTC decision "extensively."

NOTE -- This story was updated 2:45pm ET to include this press release issued March 25, 2015 by the CRTC (English):

One of the pillars of Canada’s broadcasting system—and, in fact, of our country’s democracy—is that journalists are able to report news stories independently and without undue editorial interference. This principle, along with other fundamental journalistic values, is enshrined in the Code of Ethics that was developed by RTNDA Canada (The Association of Electronic Journalists).

Further to section 2(3) of the Broadcasting Act, the CRTC has been entrusted by Canadians, through Parliament, to defend the principles of fair comment, freedom of expression and journalistic independence.

That a regulated company does not like one of the CRTC’s rulings is one thing. The allegation, however, that the largest communication company in Canada is manipulating news coverage is disturbing.

Holding a radio or television license is a privilege that comes with important obligations that are in the public interest, especially in regards to high-quality news coverage and reporting.

An informed citizenry cannot be sacrificed for a company’s commercial interests. Canadians can only wonder how many times corporate interests may have been placed ahead of the fair and balanced news reporting they expect from their broadcasting system. The RTNDA Code of Ethics is administered by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.

Canada’s private broadcasters, including CTV, are members of this independent body and must adhere to its codes of conduct. Complaints about this matter should be directed to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council for investigation. 

We expect Canada’s broadcasters to live up to their responsibilities and adhere to a high standard in their news and information programs.



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commented 2015-03-25 20:56:42 -0400
Bell must think they are in competition with the CBC.
commented 2015-03-25 20:14:50 -0400
Well, well what do you know, bell is slowly turning into a media dictatorship which supports censorship !!! Doesn’t surprise me at all. George Orwells book and film “1984” is coming to past, speak-up now or for ever hold your peace and watch out !!!
commented 2015-03-25 18:36:34 -0400
It’s a shame those same journalist didn’t take that same “moral high ground” attitude towards the Sun News channel.
commented 2015-03-25 16:45:34 -0400
Nothing about this surprises me at all. In fact, it explains a lot.
commented 2015-03-25 16:26:18 -0400
So it appears that what I have been stating ad nauseam about how the mainstream media is providing biased news coverage has some basis in fact! To think that they may actually be manipulating what Canadians hear is disturbing in a free and democratic country.
commented 2015-03-25 14:57:07 -0400
The CBC manipulates and fabricates the “news” everyday. I’m disturbed that it appears, the only one that does’t know the “news” is regularly being manipulated is the bunglers at the CRTC.
commented 2015-03-25 14:38:16 -0400
These same clowns blocked HBO real time with bill Maher because show dealt with a guests negative remarks about you agree with his views on faith or not we have a right to hear it.they have to be challenged .how can we get the c.r.t.c to do that?they blocked conservative advertising on political ads because it showed the liberal leader for what he is.
commented 2015-03-25 13:53:05 -0400
As if I needed to a reason as to why I have not watched a CTV news broadcast in almost 3 years.
commented 2015-03-25 13:53:05 -0400
As if I needed to a reason as to why I have not watched a CTV news broadcast in almost 3 years.
commented 2015-03-25 13:40:04 -0400
Time to cancel all satellite tv…save $75 or more a month…better sources in books and online…and get in more couch potatoes…this is going to be better for our health
commented 2015-03-25 13:29:50 -0400
Funny – MSM in Canada is all the same lefty controlled crap. Thank goodness for the internet.
FK U CBC. FK U CTV. I get your crap for free with my HD antenna and I still don’t watch it.
commented 2015-03-25 13:15:35 -0400
so, just how un-biased and ballanced is CTV when compared to the proven far left slant, and biased CBC? Well, now we have solid proof again, there is NO difference. So sad that Canadians have no mainstream alternative to this left wing echo chamber, that presents itself as news outlets.