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CTV news to undergo workplace probe in wake of LaFlamme dismissal

CTV news to undergo workplace probe in wake of LaFlamme dismissal

As the fallout continued over the dismissal of National news anchor Lisa LaFlamme, Bell media announced they will commission a third-party probe into the work culture of their TV newsroom. A statement that was issued by Karine Moses, Senior VP of Content, Development and News and Bell Media Vice Chair Wade Oosterman reads, “CTV regrets that the way in which the news of (LaFlamme’s) departure has been communicated may have left viewers with the wrong impression about how CTV regards Lisa and her remarkable career.” In announcing the probe, the executives wrote, “we have always taken matters regarding any discrimination very seriously and are committed to a safe, inclusive and respectful work environment for all our employees, devoid of any toxic behaviour.”

The announcement came a day after CTV news executives held a newsroom staff meeting that some participants told the Toronto Star was “a disaster.” The 30-minute meeting was reportedly cut short with many members still wanting to ask questions. LaFlamme’s former executive producer, Rosa Hwang, pressed executives to clarify whether the decision to end the anchor’s contract had to do with age or gender, asking: “What factors made you think she wouldn’t align with the (new) vision?”

Bell media has been on a cost cutting campaign with its CTV news operation for over a year. The entire CTV operation of which news is a small percentage, only contributes about 14 percent of Bell’s revenue according to their 2021 financial statements. Profit was up in 2021 due to improved sports availably after the COVID lockdown, but their report does not break out the profit and loss for the news division. In a 184-page annual report, the word ‘news’ only appears 25 times. The LaFlamme controversy may have served as a wakeup call that one of the conglomerate’s smallest divisions can cause inordinate damage to the overall brand if sensitive situations are mishandled.

It is an open question whether the probe into the workplace is intended to find a scapegoat for the LaFlamme controversy, or whether it is aimed at revealing toxic behavior by LaFlamme and her executive producer.

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