Lisa LaFlamme ‘crushed’ after Bell ouster

Longtime CTV National News anchor Lisa LaFlamme says she was “blindsided” by CTV and parent company Bell Media when she was informed in June that she was being let go by the network after 35 years.

In an emotional tweet posted at 2 p.m. Monday, LaFlamme said it was “crushing” to be leaving the network “in a manner that was not my choice.” She said she was asked by Bell executives to keep the news of her departure secret from colleagues and the public until the terms of her departure could be resolved.

“I was blindsided, and I’m still shocked and saddened by Bell Media’s decision,” she said, adding, “at 58, I still thought I’d have a lot more time to tell more of the stories that impact our daily lives. Instead I leave CTV humbled by the people who put their faith in me to tell their story” (LaFlamme also issued a news release about her unexpected departure).

LaFlamme took over as CTV National News anchor in 2011, succeeding Lloyd Robertson, who spent more than 50 years with the network before retiring at age 77.

Bell Media issued a release just after 2 p.m. on Monday announcing LaFlamme’s departure, saying it was a “business decision” that reflects “changing viewer habits.” In the release, the company said that it was moving the role of its chief news anchor in a “different direction.”

The “different direction” Bell mentioned was made apparent minutes later, when a second release announced that current national affairs correspondent Omar Sachedina, who joined the network as a Toronto correspondent in 2009, was being promoted to chief news anchor and senior editor, effective Sept. 5.

Dentsu Media Canada president Sarah Thompson said that TV viewing habits changed markedly during the pandemic, with Canadians initially gravitating to news to stay informed, but subsequently regulating their viewing in order to cope with the stress it caused.

At the same time, the rise of streaming has also markedly shifted how viewers consume news. “On-demand content expectations have changed the news industry,” she said. “What I personally hope we don’t lose is the value of journalism in our country even if the formats need to evolve.”

Chris Powell