News Brief

Bell Executive Who Fired Lisa LaFlamme Interfered With CTV News Coverage, Says Colleague

"He doesn't like it when women push back."

Lisa LaFlamme, chief anchor of CTV National News, was unceremoniously and clumsily fired because she pushed back against one Bell Media executive, say several sources with firsthand knowledge of the situation.

Michael Melling, vice president of news at Bell Media, is responsible for ousting LaFlamme, multiple sources tell Canadaland. 

Melling did not immediately respond to emails requesting comment.

One high-level CTV National News source provided Canadaland with a thorough account of today’s events, aspects of which were corroborated by other sources.

CTV National News staff found out about LaFlamme’s exit at the same time as the public, stunning CTV team members who were spoken with for this story.

LaFlamme clashed with Melling on two key issues: one, as previously reported by The Toronto Star, was a dispute about the size of the budget CTV News had dedicated to coverage of the Ukraine war – LaFlamme wanted more resources than Melling wished to provide. 

In another instance, LaFlamme stood up for her executive producer Rosa Hwang when Melling tried to shuffle her off of the CTV National News broadcast and into a role at their local Toronto news channel, CP24. 

But the issues that CTV journalists have with Melling run deeper. “He’s a company man,” says the high-level CTV source.  “He does not stand up for the journalists…He doesn’t like it when women push back and he brags about how he’s destroyed careers of anyone who dares push back.”

Melling also allegedly interfered with CTV’s news coverage, breaking a promise Bell Media made after a prior incursion from an executive into the newsroom. 

In April of 2015, Bell Media’s then-president and CEO George Cope ousted Bell Media president Kevin Crull for interfering in CTV News coverage, and vowed that “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.” 

Our high-level source at CTV National News alleges that Melling broke this vow today, when he seized control of the newsroom to shape its coverage of LaFlamme’s ousting. 

“Melling determined the copy that went into the show about LaFlamme’s departure,” they tell Canadaland. 

Also, “he wanted a talkback with Omar (Sachedina),” LaFlamme’s replacement. 

However, the newsroom resisted this directive, feeling that it would be inappropriate and disloyal to LaFlamme for CTV to include a segment with her replacement while denying her the opportunity to address her viewers.

Melling conceded the point, Canadaland is told. 

Finally, our high-level source questions the official reason Bell Media gave LaFlamme for firing her.

In a press release, Bell called it a “business decision.”

If there is a business case to be made for firing the anchor of Canada’s top-rated newscast, Melling has allegedly kept it to himself. 

“He’s never articulated any sort of semblance of a vision to any senior leader in the newsroom,” says the source.

The source believes that Melling has consistently demonstrated a lack of respect for women in senior roles in the newsroom and that he fired LaFlamme in order to seize control of CTV News and to send a message.

“Lisa was the most powerful woman at CTV News and he managed to get rid of her. This is about the corporatization of news. This is about this toxic work environment that Michael Melling in his short tenure has created in the newsroom…

When people dare to speak out, they no longer work for the company.”

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