Bell CEO Explains Lisa LaFlamme Being Ousted; CTV Exec Michael Melling ‘On Leave’
Just before 6pm PDT (9pm EDT) on Friday evening, after most media had called it a night ahead of the weekend, Bell CEO Mirko Bibic released a statement on LinkedIn regarding the recent ousting of CTV News anchor Lisa LaFlamme.
Allegations are that LaFlamme was let go because of her decision to let her hair go grey during COVID-19, and her ongoing clashes with CTV Vice President Michael Melling.
Bibic explains, “as the situation continues to unfold, it’s time for you to hear directly from me on all that has gone on at Bell Media over the last two weeks. There is certainly no denying that Lisa LaFlamme has made an important contribution to Canadian news for three decades. Since Bell Media’s decision to end her contract, there has been heavy criticism.”
“The narrative has been that Lisa’s age, gender or grey hair played into the decision. I am satisfied that this is not the case and wanted to make sure you heard it from me. While I would like to say more on the Bell Media decision, we are bound by a mutual separation agreement negotiated with Lisa, which we will continue to honour,” continued Bibic.
Bibic goes on to say “broadcasting in Canada is undergoing massive change and Bell Media needs to adapt or be left behind. We are at a crossroads where viewing behaviours have changed dramatically and traditional broadcasting is under severe stress worldwide. In an environment of declining ratings and global online platforms, we can’t keep relying on traditional broadcasting. The days when viewers wait until 11 PM to get their news are gone.”
“While some may resist change, it is necessary and we need to confront this. The CTV national news team needs to work on an integrated and aligned basis, dedicated to a common strategy and Bell Media needs to provide our journalists with the resources they need on all platforms where news is consumed,” says Bibic.
An independent review of the Bell Media working environment is underway, says Bibic. “Any necessary changes that become evident will be implemented swiftly to ensure a respectful, unified workplace.”
As for Melling, who was alleged to have made the decision to oust LaFlamme based on various factors, Bibic says “Michael is on leave effective immediately, pending the outcome of the workplace review that is proceeding.”
“I do hope this post provides context for the strategy at CTV News and the difficult decisions made,” says Bibic, concluding, “finally, I’d like to acknowledge the dedication of all my colleagues at BCE, Bell and Bell Media. This has been a difficult time for all concerned. Thank you for everything you do and for keeping Canadians connected and informed.”
The comments on Bibic’s LinkedIn post remain open. Reactions were not in Bell Media’s favour, as you can see below:
Earlier this month, LaFlamme broke her silence on the cancelling of her contract, after a 35-year career with Bell Media. In a video on Twitter, LaFlamme says she was “blindsided” by the decision to cancel her contract, adding she had to stay quiet until Bell Media made a statement on the matter, about one and a half months later.
The decision saw Bell Media receive huge blowback on social media. Bell later said it regretted how it handled the ousting of LaFlamme, explaining the decision at a company town hall, denying it had anything to do with the anchor’s gender, age or hair colour, as per allegations.