Canadian news anchor suspended over public relations conflict

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Anchor Leslie Roberts appears with a client of his public relations firm BuzzPR in an undated screen capture from a Global news broadcast. [Photo: Global Television/The Star]

Anchor Leslie Roberts appears with a client of his public relations firm BuzzPR in an undated screen capture from a Global news broadcast. [Photo: Global Television/The Star]

Global Television has suspended a news anchor following a report that shed light on a potential conflict of interest.

The channel announced Leslie Roberts had been temporarily relieved of his duties after the Star newspaper published a report claiming the anchor had been the partial owner of BuzzPR, a public relations firm whose clients regularly appeared on his news broadcasts.

According to the Star, companies paid BuzzPR for media exposure and were subsequently offered spots on Roberts’ program and others aired by Global. During the spots, Roberts and Global failed to note the conflict of interest.

A Global spokesperson told the Star on Thursday that they had no knowledge of Roberts’ co-ownership of the public relations firm until the newspaper brought it to their attention.¬†Roberts has since been suspended form his anchoring duties while the company investigates the claim.

Roberts told the Star in an interview that he did not accept payment from the companies in order to appear on television, saying he only offered his clients “media training” and “guidance” on how to craft pitches to producers.

“They did not pay me to get on TV,” Roberts said. “When I sit on the anchor desk I am in journalist mode, and nothing comes between me and a story.”

Still, Roberts acknowledged that the conflict “doesn’t look very good,” and told the paper that he intended to resign from BuzzPR.

The Star: Global news anchor suspended over claims of conflict