Bell pushes back in email to staff on narrative around LaFlamme’s departure from CTV
By Adina Bresge
Lisa LaFlamme turned down an opportunity to bid viewers a live goodbye before she was unseated from the anchor’s chair on CTV’s nightly newscast, Bell Media told staff in an internal memo on Thursday.
Karine Moses, Bell’s senior vice-president of content development and news, sent a message to employees as speculation continues to swirl around the circumstances of LaFlamme’s ouster from her prominent role.
She says the network wanted to celebrate its chief anchor’s 35-year career with a farewell broadcast, but LaFlamme opted not to sign off one last time.
“We all wanted to follow the customary practice you have seen in the past of giving a proper on-air send-off, highlighting her major career achievements,” Moses said in the email obtained by The Canadian Press.
“While I wish things had been different, I also respect her decision.”
Anchor was ‘blindsided’
The message to employees comes near the end of a topsy-turvy week that began with LaFlamme addressing her exit in a video posted on Monday. She said she was “blindsided” by Bell Media’s move to end her contract in what executives described as a “business decision.”
“I guess this is my sign-off from CTV, so I want to express my deepest gratitude to all of you,” LaFlamme said in the video.
“While it is crushing to be leaving ‘CTV National News’ in a manner that is not my choice, please know reporting to you has truly been the greatest honour of my life.”
Around the same time, Bell Media issued a press release confirming her departure and naming her replacement, Omar Sachedina, who is set to take over the anchor’s desk on Sept. 5.
Meanwhile, LaFlamme went mostly silent in the days that followed, resurfacing on Wednesday to participate in a photoshoot with freelance photographer George Pimentel.
LaFlamme has not answered requests for comment sent through social media channels.
A representative for Bell Media did not respond to questions Thursday about whether LaFlamme faced conditions to the proposed on-air farewell, such as restrictions on what she could say about her departure.
Email to staff to set the ‘record straight’
In an email with the subject line “Setting the record straight,” Moses told staff she wanted to address some of the “false narratives” circulating in the media about the shakeup at Canada’s most-watched national newscast.
“Seeing this coverage is likely difficult for many of you, as it is for me personally,” she wrote.
LaFlamme continued to work for CTV after she was informed that Bell Media intended to cut ties with her on June 29, Moses noted.
The decision was made “after careful thought and analysis” as part of a strategic push for more digital content creation to adapt to changing viewer habits, she said.
Sachedina will be “instrumental” in this shift toward a “multiplatform approach” when he begins his new role next month, she added.
Reports of tension between executive, LaFlamme
Moses pledged her support for Michael Melling, Bell Media’s vice-president of news, amid news reports suggesting that there were tensions between the executive and LaFlamme.
Some critics have suggested that sexism and ageism may have been factors in Bell Media’s decision to pull LaFlamme from the airwaves.
Moses reaffirmed Bell Media’s commitment to making CTV News a respectful and equitable place to work.
“As a female leader at Bell Media with many years of service, I also want you to know that my experiences have always been consistent with a positive, collaborative and inclusive environment.”
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