Bell head meddled in news coverage – The Globe and Mail

Posted: March 25, 2015 in Media

The incident happened last Thursday, not long after the 4 p.m. release of the CRTC’s so-called “pick-and-pay” decision, which will give consumers more freedom to choose cable and satellite TV channels. Analysts predict the change will be bad for the bottom line at BCE Inc., the parent company of Bell Media.

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, [Bell Media president] 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.

After the call, sources say, Ms. Freeman contacted CTV staff to tell them of the directive from Mr. Crull and not to use clips of Mr. Blais, telling some she felt she would be fired if they did not comply. Other CTV employees were concerned for their jobs, according to a source.

Mr. Blais was booked for an interview on the CTV show Power Play at 5 p.m., hosted by Don Martin. But minutes before the show went to air, CTV cancelled Mr. Blais’s appearance. A CRTC spokesperson confirmed the cancellation, but said no reason was given. Instead, the program led with Mr. Martin discussing the decision with Mr. Bonnell.

A news story filed for 6 p.m. local newscasts by CTV reporter John Vennavally-Rao contained no footage of Mr. Blais, even though he had spoken to reporters and TV cameras.

via Bell head meddled in news coverage – The Globe and Mail.

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