I'm Mad as Hell

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and I can't do a thing about it

End of an era at CTV?

Every once in a while I hear something that’s impossible for me to confirm. Last week someone who works with CTV told me something that will be big news in Canadian television if it is true. It took me dozens of calls to many of the people I know and trust to attempt to confirm the story. I totally trust my initial source but I needed a second source to be able to publish. In the end I was told a similar story by two more people but nobody could confirm the details. So here goes, I am publishing the story as a very trustworthy rumor not a certain fact.

It seems the CTV Olympic coverage has resulted in a major casualty for the network. Lloyd Robertson has gone to CTV brass and told them the workload is too onerous. It seems he would have preferred not to travel to Vancouver and not to anchor the Olympic news coverage. At 76 years old, even though Lloyd seems to be in great shape, he’s finding the travel and the workload difficult.

I am told he has called for a meeting with the CTV bosses that will take place on March 3rd. At this meeting he is expected to resign his post as the CTV News anchor.

CTV is preparing for the loss of “Canada’s most trusted news anchor.” Insiders say the network will replace Lloyd with a two-person desk. It seems they cannot make up their minds as to whether Tom Clark or Lisa Laflamme should be Lloyd’s replacement. So the two will share Lloyd’s duties for the foreseeable future. The way it was described to me it will be a sort of contest. The news reader that the audience responds to will eventually take over the sole anchor position, the loser will go back to reporting.

Lloyd Robertson, Peter Mansbridge and Kevin Newman all signed two year contracts at about the same time a year and a half ago. Lloyd’s early departure could take CTV out of the Kevin Newman sweepstakes. Rumors have been around for years that both CBC and CTV want Kevin Newman as their replacement. Kevin is doing a great job at Global but let’s face it, there is little room for growth there and the new owners, if the sale of Canwest Global goes through, Shaw, are known more for saving money, than spending money. The end of the Asper era could be just impetus needed to have Kevin jump ship. Unfortunately for CTV though, Lloyd would have to stay on until Kevin’s contract runs out. Can they convince Lloyd to stay until the fall?

So if the plan goes ahead as described to me, Lloyd will be gone very soon.

Let’s look at the two in house contenders. Lisa Laflamme was a wonderful reporter in a small newsroom in Kitchener before she joined CTV. I knew her work well. In fact I tried to hire her when I ran Global News only to be rebuffed by an idiotic Vice President who didn’t like her hair. CTV got her instead and she has flourished. She has covered major events around the world doing the same excellent work that she was known for in Kitchener. She has also been a better than adequate fill-in news reader for Lloyd and Sandie Rinaldo. A few years ago she was considered Lloyd’s heir apparent but something happened to change CTV’s opinion. Well it seems Lisa has recovered enough to be considered again.

Tom Clark came from CFTO in Toronto where he was John Bassett’s chief political reporter. This meant he had to take a strong Conservative line to keep his job. For many media insiders his excellent work was overshadowed by his politics. When CTV took over the station Tom was freed from his political straightjacket. He too has flourished. He has reported mainly from Ottawa and Washington where his work has been excellent. He has also been a regular fill-in for Lloyd and has done that anchoring job well too.

So why is CTV so hesitant about these two fine journalists? I guess the feeling is Lloyd is a tough act to follow. It takes years to develop the kind of audience loyalty Lloyd has been able to deliver. The fear of making the wrong choice seems to be greater than the ability to make the right choice.

Over the years there have been other favorites to replace Lloyd. I remember when everyone thought Keith Morrison was the obvious successor. He was the weekend anchor and hugely popular. He went on to host Canada AM and The Journal before leaving for a reporting career at NBC.

In Toronto many assumed that Ken Shaw would replace Lloyd. Ken is probably the most successful anchor in local Toronto television history. The Toronto audience loves him the way the country loves Lloyd. His newscasts have always led in the ratings. But I have never heard a serious discussion that Ken would take over at the network. In fact I don’t remember a single time that he has ever hosted a national program.

In the end there is only one thing for certain at CTV, the next CTV News anchor will not be an announcer like Lloyd Robertson. Lloyd’s replacement, or replacements will have a background in journalism, and this at least, will be a good thing no matter who gets the job.

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16 Responses

  1. Geoff says:

    I’d presumed (with no information to back it up) that the only reason Lloyd hung on this long was to take part in one final Olympics. However, he sounded very much out of it the night of the opening ceremony, and I guess it was as apparent to him as it was to me. He can still read a teleprompter, but that’s not enough.

    I find something very off-putting about Lisa LaFlamme. I just can’t put my finger on it, but there’s just something in her delivery that I don’t like listening to. (Maybe it’s her hair…) Given the choice, I would choose Tom Clark. I would hope other female candidates would be apparent, and should be considered.

    I’m pretty sure Ken Shaw was prime-time anchor on Newsnet for a time. He’s a good anchor, but may lack worldliness. Any others in the CTV system at the local level that could fill the bill? Perhaps ATV’s Steve Murphy, who has filled in for Lloyd occasionally, but his star may have been tarnished by that Stephane Dion thing.

    • cynthia says:

      WOW geoff-what a comment:I find something very off-putting about Lisa LaFlamme. I just can’t put my finger on it, but there’s just something in her delivery that I don’t like listening to. (Maybe it’s her hair…)
      your opinion- which you are entitled to
      personally – i love lisa- her integrity and beauty– not to mention- her charm so hey- Kudos to you lisa- east coast -viewers – love ya!!!!!

  2. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by bobledrew: Wow… seemingly reliable report that Lloyd Robertson is preparing to retire. http://bit.ly/crT795

  3. viewer says:

    Steve Murphy’s an excellent anchor, who’s always poised under pressure.
    He’s also really personable, and a massive fan fave on the east coast.

    Would they take Tom Clark off PowerPlay so soon?

  4. Not a fan says:

    I’m so over Lloyd Robertson. I’m only 45 so his career was flourishing long before I was born… I’m sure there were a lot of Britons who couldn’t stand the mention of Queen Victoria’s name after the first 55 years. My dad had an expression that he used to describe the 60 Minutes team – “self important poops”. I feel the same way about every reporter on that Lloyd Robertson newscast except Lisa Laflamme. She’s the only one who I can watch who doesn’t blink and patronize. But the sound of Lloyd’s voice makes me shudder these days.

  5. I watch Tom Clark’s political show and it would be a plus for CTV to limit his contribution to just reading the news.

    I find his political coverage to be shallow, uninformed, sensational, and frequently incorrect. Whats worse, he seems to be oblivious to the fact:

    So CTV should let Tom Clark read from a teleprompter, just so long as real journalists file the stories.

  6. What about Sandie Rinaldo? I just assumed that she would automatically take over and the Lisa and Tom (please keep him on Power Play) would be the backfillers. I like all three, and Lloyd as well but understandably he may want to have some time to enjoy a bit of retirement.

  7. […] Big news — maybe. Former TV producer Howard Bernstein (via @DavidAkin) with a “very trustworthy rumour” — Lloyd Robertson is stepping down after the […]

  8. adsf says:

    it would suck if larry king didn’t interview him but larry is too busy with reality tv stars these days

  9. […] Rumour: Lloyd Robertson to retire as CTV National News anchor? Filed under: News Stuff, URBMN 2008- — Tags: a fascinating work of fiction, CKNW, CTV, CTV National News, CTV News, Howard Bernstein, Lloyd Robertson, Medium Close-Up, network television news, The Bill Good Show, TV News — C. Archer @ 8:32 pm Howard Bernstein of Medium Close-Up has posted a “very trustworthy rumour” (his words) that Lloyd Robertson will resign from his role as CTV National News anchor very soon. […]

  10. CTV insider says:

    Here’s how it will go down…Tom Clark will replace Robertson sometime before the Fall season. Jane Taber will take Clark’s role on Power Play when the HoC returns in the Fall. Question Period will either be cancelled outright, cut down to a half-hour show with Oliver as the only host or kept in its current format with various guest hosts week to week.

  11. Jason Paris says:

    I’ve heard from “insiders” that Lloyd has long been planning to retire shortly after the Vancouver Games. I’m not sure I believe it was the Vancouver Games that made him start to consider retirement though.

  12. divshare.com says:

    This is a topic which is close to my heart…
    Thank you! Where are your contact details though?

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