Bell is a massive telco. They also own a lot of TV stations, some radio stations, and a newspaper. So, you can imagine that when the Globe And Mail which is a paper that Bell owns came out and accused Kevin Crull who is the president of Bell media and is effectively their boss of trying to influence the network’s news coverage of the CRTC decision to cap the price of basic cable as well as make cable companies offer “pick and pay” options for consumers, that got a lot of attention. The accusation is that he called up the head of CTV news and asked her not to run quotes of CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais. The CRTC issued a very terse statement. Here’s the key parts of it:
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 licence is a privilege that comes with important obligations that are in the public interest, especially in regards to high-quality news coverage and reporting.
We expect Canada’s broadcasters to live up to their responsibilities and adhere to a high standard in their news and information programs.
I do not recall the CRTC ever making a statement like this. I guess that this was enough blowback to make Crull apologize. Here’s part of what he said via the National Post:
“It was wrong of me to be anything but absolutely clear that editorial control always rests with the news team,” Crull said in a statement. “I have apologized to the team directly for this mistake.”
While I am not shocked that this sort of thing has happened, because in this day and age you have to question how independent journalism is, this is a pretty shocking case. I’d love to see the CRTC slap Bell silly over this. But it won’t happen. Instead, Kevin Crull will have to deal with the embarrassment of being caught doing something very wrong by a paper that Bell owns .
Oh, a tip for the reporters who broke this story. You might want to start mass e-mailing your resumes around. Call it a hunch.