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CRTC Fires Back: Allegations Are Disturbing UPDATED

The Globe and Mail today reported allegations from unnamed sources that Kevin Crull, president of Bell Media, which owns CTV, struck back at the CRTC after it announced last Thursday that cable companies would soon be required to offer “entry-level” basic packages at no more than $25 a month. It’s alleged that Crull effectively banned Jean-Pierre Blais, chairman of the CRTC, from appearing on CTV for the rest of that day — making it difficult for news programs to cover the story of the announcement, to say the least. You can read about the allegations here.

So far, there’s no word from Bell Media or from CTV — we’ll keep an eye out for it.

Crull has now explained his actions: “I felt the focus on the CRTC itself by CTV and other Canadian news organizations would be better placed on a broad and necessary discussion of the impacts of the CRTC’s decisions on consumers, our team members, and our business.

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. Indeed their strong and straightforward reaction to my intrusion only heightens my appreciation of their independence, integrity and professionalism. It is crucial to note that CTV’s coverage of the CRTC’s decisions was fair, balanced and extensive, and stands up in comparison to coverage of the issue by any Canadian news organization.”

Read his full statement here.

However, the CRTC has made a statement on the matter. In a press release today, it said, “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.”

The release notes that under the Code of Ethics developed by RTNDA Canada (The Association of Electronic Journalists), “journalists are able to report news stories independently and without undue editorial interference.” Further, “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.” (Via CNW Group)

For our coverage of last Thursday’s announcement, see here. For a roundup of reactions and opinions on the new regs, see our article here.

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