BCE shakes up CTV

Departures include John Gossling, Paul Sparkes, Susanne Boyce and Alon Marcovici.
Susanne Boyce

BCE has begun outlining CTV’s post-merger management structure.

Ivan Fecan was always going to leave CTV when BCE closed its $3.2 billion deal to acquire the broadcaster.

Now comes news that a slew of Fecan loyalists are also headed to the exits.

Kevin Crull, who is to succeed Fecan as the CTV topper, in an internal e-mail on Monday laid out a host of management changes.

These include the pending departures of CFO John Gossling; Paul Sparkes, executive vice president of corporate affairs, who led Fecan’s long-standing fight for retransmission fees; Susanne Boyce (pictured), president of creative, content and channels, called a “programming legend” by Crull; and Dawn Fell, executive vice-president of human resources and operations.

Also leaving the company is Alon Marcovici, EVP of digital, who stick-handled the digital coverage of the 2010 Winter Games from Vancouver.

“Combining forces with Bell puts us in a great position to navigate today’s dynamic media landscape. This position of strength is a perfect place to launch the next chapter of this outstanding organization. Today is a very big day in that evolution,” Crull said in his internal message.

Fecan, who has led CTV for 17 years, had planned to retire in 2012, but brought his departure forward in the wake of the BCE takeover deal.

And his departure was expected to usher in a house-cleaning at the top-rated broadcaster.

TV execs remaining with future owner BCE include Rita Fabian at ad sales, Rick Brace at specialty programming and in-house production, and newly-promoted Phil King, responsible sports, conventional programming and independent Canadian production.

Also forming a post-Fecan regime at CTV is Wendy Freeman, in news and current events programming, Bart Yabsley, responsible for content sales and distribution, and digital media exec Gary Anderson, current head at Bell web portal Sympatico.ca.

Chris Gordon will oversee CTV’s radio division, while BCE lobbyist Mirko Bibic assumes control of regulatory and government affairs at the broadcaster.

Crull’s internal memo was short on management titles, suggesting they may evolve over the next few months as BCE finally takes control of the broadcaster and integrates it into its media empire.

On the programming side, BCE will looking for a cross-platform strategy.

“Due to persistent trends where viewers are leaving conventional and profits are concentrated in specialty, we really need to think holistically,” Crull explained.

At the same time, to continue pulling in primetime audiences, BCE will create a programming council, to be co-chaired Mike Cosentino, a protégé of Susanne Boyce who became senior vice-president of program scheduling in 2007, and Joanna Webb, senior vice president of programming.

Webb came over from Corus Entertainment to CTV in September 2010.

Also joining the programming council is Tracey Pearce, Pat DiVittorio and Brian McCluskey.

Crull and his BCE team will hold a townhall meeting at CTV on Friday to field questions on the transition to a post-Fecan regime at the broadcaster.

BCE anticipates approval for the takeover from the CRTC by March 7, leading to a closing of the transaction in early April.

By then, CTV will be deep into preparations for the upcoming Los Angeles Screenings, where it annually acquires new and renewed U.S. network series, and prepping for upcoming CRTC hearings on license renewals and vertical integration issues.