Michael Melling, the head of CTV News who went on leave following the ouster of chief anchor Lisa LaFlamme, has now been permanently replaced, CBC News has learned.
“We are pleased to announce that Richard Gray, Interim VP, News is assigned to the role on a permanent basis. Michael Melling has been reassigned to VP Shared Services, and will not be returning to CTV’s news operations,” read an internal memo sent to staff on Monday.
The memo was signed by Rob Malcolmson, executive vice-president and chief legal and regulatory officer, and Nikki Moffat, CHRO and executive vice-president, corporate services.
Melling faced criticism over LaFlamme’s abrupt departure from CTV, which raised questions among media observers about whether sexism and ageism played a role in the shakeup. He took over as vice-president of the news division at CTV’s parent company, Bell Media, in January.
Melling went on leave in August amid the furor over LaFlamme’s exit, with an internal memo saying he had “decided to take leave from his current role effective immediately to spend time with his family.”
Third-party workplace review
The move to reassign Melling follows an independent third-party review of the CTV National newsroom that began in late August and was conducted by employment lawyer Sarah Crossley, according to the latest memo.
“The goal of this review was to gather information about the culture, environment and practices in the CTV National newsroom, with a view to identifying any issues, concerns or areas for improvement so that we could then work to address them,” the memo said.
It said several key themes emerged from the review, including: “A culture where people are sometimes afraid to raise concerns for fear of reprisal or inaction”; “A need for greater civility and respect in the newsroom”; and “A desire to improve working conditions.”
According to the memo, an action plan has been developed to address the issues, with the goals of increasing trust, valuing the work and improving transparency and engagement.
Bell called LaFlamme’s ouster a ‘business decision’
In a video statement on Aug. 15, LaFlamme said she was “blindsided” by the news that Bell Media was ending her contract at CTV National News after more than 30 years.
Bell described the departure as a “business decision,” citing “changing viewer habits.” Her replacement, national affairs correspondent Omar Sachedina, who joined the network in 2009, was announced the same day.
Following days of criticism, the company released a statement saying it regretted the way the departure was handled as it “may have left viewers with the wrong impression” that LaFlamme’s storied career wasn’t valued.
Bell said it took allegations of discrimination “very seriously” and would launch a third-party internal workplace review in the newsroom.
A town hall meeting with staff was also held in which Melling and another Bell Media executive offered their perspectives on the events.
Karine Moses, senior vice-president of content development and news for Bell Media, said at the time that LaFlamme rejected the opportunity to bid farewell on air. Moses also told employees that the anchor hadn’t been simply ousted from the company.
She “was offered many options to come back and to do many things, which she declined, and I respect that,” Moses said in a recording of the meeting obtained by The Canadian Press. She did not offer details on the other job opportunities Bell Media presented to LaFlamme.