Regulator raps Bell for journalistic meddling

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OTTAWA – Canada’s broadcasting regulator has a sharply worded reminder for Bell Media that it should not be interfering in the work of journalists at its television network CTV.

The warning follows a Globe and Mail report that says Bell Media president Kevin Crull intervened in how journalists reported a major regulatory decision last week.

The Globe says Crull demanded that journalists not give any airtime to Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission chairman Jean-Pierre Blais.

Blais had just announced rule changes requiring broadcasters to offer a low-cost package to consumers and to allow them to “pick and pay” other individual channels.

Blais says that broadcasters enjoy the privilege of licence with the knowledge they have specific obligations, including high-quality news coverage and reporting.

He also underlines that one of the pillars of the broadcasting system is that journalists should be free to do their work without interference.

The Globe report says that CTV Ottawa bureau chief Bob Fife refused to abide by Crull’s edict, and included footage of Blais in a story the night of the CRTC decision.