The head of Canada’s largest media company is suddenly out of a job. And the press release announcing the departure of Bell Media president Kevin Crull makes it clear the departure is related to Crull’s attempt to interfere in CTV News’s coverage of a recent CRTC decision:
“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,” said Mr. Cope.
At the same time, Bell announced other executive changes, including the appointment of Mary Ann Turcke to replace Crull as president of Bell Media.
I was highly critical of Crull’s interference in news (particularly because it wasn’t the first time he’d done it), but I don’t know if firing him (or whatever negotiated departure actually took place) is necessarily the right call. I’m willing to take his apology at face value, even if it seems in hindsight as if it might have been forced on him.
What is clear, though, is that this does little to guarantee that such interference in Bell’s news operations won’t repeat in the future. There has been no investigation into whether Crull or other Bell Media executives tried to influence news coverage, and no procedures or independent watchdog in place to protect CTV News, BNN and others from BCE executives in a conflict of interest.
Unless there’s an announcement about that next, it’s hard to be too optimistic that this is a big change. Though it will probably do a lot to reassure journalists working at Bell Media.
Shaw Media also announced executive changes, though not nearly as controversially.
UPDATE: Cue the conspiracy theories — Crull was set up by Bell — and more reasoned analysis: Crull was sacrificed to prevent the CRTC from getting even angrier.