Canadian Network Boss Loses Job Over News Coverage Meddling

Kevin Crull Headshot - P 2013
Courtesy of Bell Media

Kevin Crull Headshot - P 2013

Bell Media president Kevin Crull is out after banning Canada's TV watchdog from his airwaves for a cable unbundling decision.

Bell Media president Kevin Crull is stepping down as head of Canada's top-rated TV network two weeks after he apologized for barring Canada's TV watchdog from his airwaves over a regulatory decision.

George Cope, president and CEO of Bell Media-parent Bell Canada and BCE, announced the departure on Thursday after Crull on March 19 ordered network reporters not to interview CRTC chair Jean-Pierre Blais on-air about his landmark cable unbundling decision, according to a March 25 Globe and Mail newspaper report.

Crull apologized for meddling in his network's news coverage over the CRTC decision, but it wasn't enough. "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," Cope said in a statement.

The CRTC's Blais blasted Bell Media for "manipulating" its news coverage of his regulatory decision to launch pick-and-pay cable TV pricing by 2016. The newsroom meddling episode followed BCE going to the Federal Court of Appeals to overturn CRTC decisions to replace local ads with American ones on CTV's annual NFL Super Bowl telecast, and to stop giving smartphone subscribers preferential treatment with a mobile TV app.