CTV executive Michael Melling to take leave in wake of Lisa LaFlamme ouster


The vice-president of news for Bell Media, Michael Melling, is taking a leave from his job, according to an internal memo from Bell Media, as the company continues to weather criticism sparked by the termination of national CTV anchor Lisa LaFlamme.

It’s been two weeks since LaFlamme was terminated, a move which some laid at the feet of Melling, sparked outrage among viewers nationwide. The longtime TV journalist announced the news in a video posted to social media in which she said she’d been “blindsided” by the news.

The memo says Melling’s decision “reflects our shared desire to support the newsroom and do what’s best to help the team move past the current circumstances.”

Mirko Bibic, president and chief executive officer of Bell Canada, said in a statement the leave was effective immediately “pending the outcome of the workplace review.” The company announced a workplace review in the wake of the LaFlamme controversy.

Melling, who has worked his way to the top of the company after joining as an editorial assistant back in 2003, was named a vice-president in January.

Several CTV employees who have spoken to the Star have laid the blame for what they describe as the difficult current climate at the feet of Melling, the head of news, while one said the issues in the organization predate him, but have been “amplified” during his tenure.

Former employees told the Star that Melling’s time at CTV News was characterized by cuts, layoffs and moving from expensive broadcast equipment to using more mobile devices for reporting and photography. They added that it created an atmosphere of low morale and apathy in the newsroom.

Some other current or former CTV News employees said the culture of low morale existed well before Melling was promoted to vice-president of news.

Last week, the Globe and Mail reported that LaFlamme’s hair “going grey” was questioned by Melling. It helped spark a national conversation about ageism and sexism in the media, with companies like Dove and Wendy’s launching campaigns to support grey hair.

In a statement to the Star sent prior to the announcement of his taking leave, Melling said the report was “categorically untrue.”

“Serious and damaging anonymous allegations about me have been made or published in recent days that are categorically not true, including but not limited to accusations that age, gender, or hair colour have been factors in recent events,” Melling said.

“Major organizational changes are always thoroughly reviewed and approved before proceeding.”

He added that he has always been committed to a respectful workplace.

A current CTV employee, who spoke under the condition of anonymity due to concerns about their job, said Melling walked past newsroom staff at the end of the day and only said goodbye. Newsroom staff received the internal memo a short time later.

The employee said they were personally relieved to hear of Melling’s leave.

“I think if it means things will quiet down and we can get back to doing our jobs and focusing, then I’m happy for it.”

According to the memo, Richard Gray, currently regional GM, eastern region, will step in as acting vice-president of news, supported by Karine Moses, senior vice-president of content development and news.