Head of CTV News taking leave after backlash from LaFlamme dismissal

CTV names Omar Sachedina as new Chief News Anchor and Senior Editor of CTV National News. This comes just hours after longtime anchor Lisa Laflamme released a video saying she was blindsided by being let go in June.

The executive who took the brunt of the public’s wrath over the controversial dismissal of long-time CTV News anchor Lisa LaFlamme is taking a leave of absence “effective immediately,” a memo to staff on Friday night revealed.

CityNews has obtained a copy of the email sent to staff, informing them that Michael Melling, the vice-president of news for Bell Media, is stepping away from his role “to spend time with his family.”

“His decision reflects our shared desire to support the newsroom and do what’s best to help the team move past the current circumstances to focus on delivering the stories that matter to Canadians,” the memo reads.

The memo says Richard Gray, who is currently regional general manager of eastern region, will step in to assume Melling’s role.

Last Monday, LaFlamme said she was blindsided and shocked after learning that Bell Media decided to end her contract after 35 years.

Bell Media called it a “business decision.”

A few days later, the Globe and Mail reported that Melling raised questions about the 58-year-old LaFlamme’s hair, asking who had approved the decision to “let Lisa’s hair go grey.”

The Globe report also suggested Melling was the one who told LaFlamme she was being removed from her role.

CTV announced that Omar Sachedina would be the new Chief News Anchor and Senior Editor of CTV National News, effective September 5.

Sachedina, 39, of Vancouver, British Columbia, is currently National Affairs Correspondent for CTV News. He first joined CTV National News as a correspondent in Toronto in 2009.

LaFlamme’s ousting struck a nerve with the public, spawning allegations of ageism and sexism, with many noting that former male anchors of far more advanced ages had elaborate, respectful send-offs.

Last Friday Bell Media announced it would initiate a third-party workplace review over the handling of the situation.

In a statement, the parent company of CTV said it regrets how news of LaFlamme’s departure “may have left viewers with the wrong impression about how CTV regards Lisa and her remarkable career.”

With files from Michael Ranger and The Canadian Press

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