Kevin Crull has been let go as President of Bell Media after the executive was accused of meddling in CTV’s coverage of the CRTC recent TV pick-and-pay decision.
Crull reportedly called executives at CTV News and demanded the network, which is owned by Bell, not show any coverage of CRTC commissioner Jean-Pierre Blais justifying the decision to force telcos to offer a $25 per month basic television package. The Globe and Mail, which is 15% owned by Bell, reported the following day of Crull’s interference, after which he issued an apology, “It was wrong of me to be anything but absolutely clear that editorial control always rests with the news team. I have apologized to the team directly for this mistake.”
This is not the first time Crull has been accused of interfering in CTV’s coverage of Bell and its competitors, either. This time, though, the CRTC responded with a statement of its own. “That a regulated company does not like one of the CRTC’s rulings is one thing,” it said in a statement. “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.
“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.”
Crull will be replaced by former President of Media Sales for Bell Media, Mary Ann Turcke.
Bell has also moved a number of other executives into new positions. Blaik Kirby has been appointed President of Bell Mobility from his previous position as CMO of the wireless division. Kirby has been with Bell since 1986, and has worked in the mobility division since 2006.
Former Bell Mobility head, Wade Oosterman, is moving out of the mobile division completely, taking over as President of Bell Canada and BCE, reporting directly to CEO George Cope. Bell has added a new role, President of Residential Services, with former BRS CMO, Rizwan Jamal, moving into the position.
In a statement, CEO George Cope said that “Kevin Crull departs Bell with our thanks for his contributions to our customers and shareholders. Kevin has been a significant part of Bell’s strategic transformation as he expanded Bell Media’s leadership with major new investments in Canadian content, the successful integration of Astral and competitive innovations like CraveTV.
“However, the independence of Bell Media’s news operations is of paramount importance to our company and to all Canadians. There can be no doubt that Bell will always uphold the journalistic standards that have made CTV the most trusted brand in Canadian news,” he said.