The Globe and Mail’s James Bradshaw reports that Bell Media President Kevin Crull banned CTV media properties from including CRTC Chair Jean Pierre Blais in coverage of the recent TalkTV decisions. The report indicates that Crull ordered the head of CTV News to stop including Blais in coverage following an interview on BNN, which led to the cancellation of an interview with Don Martin and dropping him from local news stories (he was included in the national newscast as Robert Fife defied the order). Bell Media has still not publicly commented on the pick-and-pay decision. Crull is the same Bell executive who earlier this month called for the blocking of U.S. channels and for new measures to make it more difficult for Canadians to access U.S. Netflix.
I would say the story is shocking, but this is not the first time of reports that Crull has meddled in news coverage related to his company. In August 2013, Dwayne Winseck reported that Crull intervened on coverage of the wireless sector when Verizon was considering entry into the Canadian market. Winseck posted emails from Crull to news executives throughout CTV urging certain coverage of a wireless report throughout Bell Media’s television and radio stations. I wrote about Winseck’s story here.
Steve Faguy followed up with Bell following the post who claimed that “our news divisions are independently managed and have the full power to make editorial decisions, as outlined in the CTV News Policy Handbook.” That claim is unsurprising, since the CAB Code of Ethics says that “news shall not be selected for the purpose of furthering or hindering either side of any controversial public issue, nor shall it be formulated on the basis of the beliefs, opinions or desires of management, the editor or others engaged in its preparation or delivery.” Yet given that the Wendy Freeman, the President of CTV News, apparently felt that she would be fired if she did not comply with Crull’s demands, Bell’s claims of editorial independence ring hollow.
So Michael, would you agree that it would prudent that Bell (and other media/medium conglomerates) be forced to divest their media properties because of the very evident conflict of interest of of owning both media and medium properties simultaneously?
John Oliver delivers a fairly humourous and succinct view of the conflict that occurs between media, news and advertising. The only thing he missed is ownership (probably because HBO is owned by Time Warner (a vast news conglomerate in its own right).
The following is 12 minutes well spent:
And yes, Canadians should demand the divestiture of certain entities to ensure that we actually get news instead of filtered opinions and narration.
I never noticed. Oh, but maybe that’s because I don’t watch CTV News. Anyone wonder why I don’t watch CTV News?
I want all of the news, not just the news that paints Bell in a nice light.
Let us not forget that the CRTC enabled the mergers and acquisitions which have made Bell and Crull as big as they are (or think they are). The most bogus part of this story is the CRTC claiming they refused a meeting with Bell because they do not conduct their business behind closed doors. That’s exactly what they’ve done for years to the benefit of the broadcasters and the detriment of independent producers, the creative community and most of all the Canadian consumer.
@Jim Henshaw The CRTC did not enable the mergers and acquisitions which created the Bell monolith. The CRTC has little to no authority to prevent corporate mergers (although other federal agencies and the Industry Minister could have stepped in to block them, the Conservative ideology believes that big business will naturally regulate itself.)
Many of the CRTC’s recent decisions could be viewed as an attempt to use it’s influence and authority to counteract the self interests of Canada’s vertically integrated news/print/broadcast/telecom/internet/cable mega corporations.
If I could get anything besides this pitiful so-called Bell high speed internet where I live, I would have it. I don’t have their satellite, or cell phone and refuse to get it. Never has a company charged so much and given so little. Our bill, without any changes whatsoever has risen 16 percent within one year………far above the rate of inflation. I do watch U.S. netflix and would not even consider their version…….Crave. I watch maritime news on Global Saint John, haven’t watched CTV for a couple of years now due to their bias.
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The foundation of our democracy, of any democracy, is freedom of news organizations to report the news in an unbiased way. Crull is attacking that foundation and has in the past as well. I don’t normally call for some ones head very easily but the huge media companies of today need to be sent a firm message. Democracy is far more important than their feelings about the news. Crull must go.
This is exactly the reason that Bell as a carrier should not be allowed to own the companies involved in the production of the media in the first place.
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