TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's broadcast regulator scolded the country's biggest communications company BCE Inc on Wednesday after a report alleged the head of its Bell Media unit interfered with coverage of a ruling that could prove painful for Bell.
The Globe and Mail newspaper, citing unnamed sources, said Bell Media's President Kevin Crull told the head of CTV News not to conduct or air interviews with the chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) after the regulator said it would force distributors to unbundle cable TV packages. (http://bit.ly/1DYA269)
"An informed citizenry cannot be sacrificed for a company’s commercial interests," CRTC Chairman Jean-Pierre Blais said in a statement. "Canadians can only wonder how many times corporate interests may have been placed ahead of the fair and balanced news reporting they expect from their broadcasting system."
BCE declined to comment on the CRTC rebuke, and said it stood by its journalistic integrity in relation to the Globe report. It also said the CRTC decision was featured extensively on a variety of its channels.
BCE, traditionally a telephone and Internet company, in recent years bought some of Canada's largest media assets in a drive to control the cost of content sent through its satellite, internet and telecom networks.
Blais suggested that complaints about the alleged meddling be directed to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.
BCE is fighting other CRTC rulings in the courts, including over Super Bowl advertising and a ban on discounting its own content sent to its customers' mobile devices.
(Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and Christian Plumb)