Bell Media President Kevin Crull Ousted Over Journalistic Meddling

Crull Casualty in Ongoing Feud Between the CRTC and BCE Over The “Pick And-Pay” Packages.

James Bradshaw and Christine Dobby report that BCE Inc. announced Kevin Crull, Bell Media president, has been let go, effective immediately, and will be replaced by Mary Ann Turcke. Crull’s departure was triggered by his interference in news coverage at the company’s television stations.

Bradshaw and Dobby go on to report that the decision was sparked by Crull’s order towards the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission decided to introduce “pick-and-pay” options for TV channels. Crull was outraged by the decision as analysts expected BCE’s revenues would suffer as a result of the new rules. Bradshaw and Dobby also state that Crull called CTV News president, Wendy Freeman, shortly after the decision and “ordered her to exclude CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais from coverage on Bell-owned networks.” Freeman expressed her concern to staffers that she would be fired if she did not comply with Crull. However, senior journalists, with her support, opposed the order on a newscast later that evening.

The Globe reported that Crull’s actions were ‘disturbing’ which prompted Crull to publicly apologize for his ‘mistake’ and recognized that the editorial control should always rest with the news team. However, there has been an ongoing feud between Bell and the federal regulator and Crull’s order reached a breaking point. Bradshaw and Dobby observe whether or not this change will reduce tensions between BCE and CRTC.

BCE Inc. chief executive, George Cope, made a statement in the effect that they need to protect independence and trust in Bell Media’s news outlets, including CTV. Bradshaw and Dobby cite Cope, ‘Kevin has been a significant part of Bell’s strategic transformation…. However, the independence of Bell Media’s news operations is of paramount importance to our company and all Canadians.’

Bradshaw and Dobby conclude Crull has been dismissed and replaced by Turcke, “an engineer by training who has led Bell Media’s sales and its local TV and radio division since November.” Further, more shifts have been made within BCE Inc.: Wade Oosterman has been promoted to group president of Bell Canada, and BCE; and Blaik Kirby and Rizwan Jamal will split Oosterman’s job-creating two new president-level roles.