Canadians want to get rid of the current oligopoly in the telecom industry to get more competitive fees and better service. But not as much as they want Lisa LaFlamme back on CTV National News.
A Change.org petition calling to reinstate CTV News’ decorated chief anchor was circulated shortly after the ousting and has now gathered over 141,000 signatures. In contrast, the petition for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to end the domination of Rogers Communications Inc. (TSX: RCI.B), BCE Inc (TSX: BCE) and Telus Corporation (TSX: T) has barely made it to 65,000.
LaFlamme’s contract cancelation, which was announced by CTV News’ parent company Bell Media through a press release, has been received with anger and criticism — with many accusing the station of being ageist and sexist.
The anchor was one of the many who stopped dyeing their hair during the pandemic, she embraced her natural color and transitioned into going grey. The move, which she said was “liberating,” was celebrated by women all over.
LaFlamme’s career at CTV News spans 35 years, with years of reporting from sites of natural disasters and conflicts. In 2010, she took over Lloyd Robertson’s post as full-time anchor of CTV National News, the channel’s flagship program. The following year, she was appointed chief anchor and senior editor of the program.
In her long career in journalism, LaFlamme has earned a multitude of accolades, including the Order of Canada, one of the country’s highest honors. She most recently won best news anchor at this year’s Canadian Screen Awards.
After the news of her ouster was received with fury, Bell Media admitted to taking missteps in handling the situation. The announcement of LaFlamme’s dismissal was quickly followed by the announcement that she would be replaced by Omar Sachedina, who is currently CTV’s National Affairs Correspondent.
Analysts say that the rushed announcements completely robbed both of the celebration they deserved — LaFlamme for her years of award-winning service as a journalist, and as a woman in a somewhat still male-dominated industry, and a historic moment for 39-year-old Sachedina, an accomplished person of color.
“There were multiple reasons why the decision was made to announce it at the same time. In retrospect, I think we shouldn’t have done it this way,” said Karine Moses, president of Bell Media’s Quebec arm, at a recent town hall, of which Canadaland was able to obtain a recording.
Also present was Michael Melling, vice president of news, to try to address the staff’s concerns over the issue, and to give clarity over the sequence of events as it’s been “filled with false narratives.”
When asked about what the actual plan was, Moses later seemingly doubled back, claiming that it was actually “very well-sequenced.” She also only gave vague references to a plan and did not actually respond to the question.
“In terms of the sequence of what happened, unfortunately, there are a couple of things that cannot be shared. We could not share it with you before it went public. So that’s one of the things, unfortunately. So things happen very fast, very quickly. So, unfortunately, it looked a little bit disorganized, but it was very well-sequenced,” she said.
Moses also referred to “the vision” a few times but failed to talk about what that vision was.
“The vision is clear. We’re going to share it with you guys. We will engage you. But in terms of changing the anchor, sometimes you look at it honestly, there’s a couple of things you want to change. And unfortunately, that’s what was one of the things that we felt that we needed to move on,” she said.
The executive was also asked directly whether LaFlamme’s dismissal had anything to do with her age and gender.
To which she responded: “Seriously, I’m a woman. I’m a woman. I’ve been here for 25 years. And do you really think that I would fire a woman because she’s a woman?”
The two executives also tried to address questions about company morale, but much like the responses to LaFlamme’s dismissal, the answers were vague blanket statements.
“If I understand the question correctly, this is a layered challenge for the organization. It’s gone on for a while and there’s so many different layers to it,” said Melling when asked about their plans for improving morale.
“It can include things like resource allocations, the way things are sometimes structured, sometimes the way feedback is provided. There’s a lot of conversations we can have to move that conversation forward,” he added.
Sources say that it was Melling who pushed for the ouster of LaFlamme. The two reportedly clashed a few times. One instance was reportedly over LaFlamme asking for more budget and resources for their Ukraine war coverage than Melling wanted to provide. And the other was allegedly over Melling attempting to shuffle off LaFlamme’s executive producer Rosa Hwang into a role at the local Toronto news channel, CP24.
Bell Media has yet to give an update on what the plan will be or what that “vision” is. While the petition continues to gather support, Sachedina is slated to take over the program starting September 5. The company has also announced that it will launch a third-party workplace review.
CRTC, meanwhile, also has yet to address growing concerns over the telco industry, and support for the recent petition has unfortunately since dwindled.
At the end of the day, the news will continue to be made, headlines will continue to be read, and Canadians will continue to struggle to pay for bad mobile internet service to consume that news.
Information for this briefing was found via Twitter, Canadaland, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.