General + Regulatory + Telecom + Media NewsMarla Boltman to head public broadcaster watchdog 'FRIENDS'

Marla Boltman to head public broadcaster watchdog ‘FRIENDS’

Marla Boltman has been appointed Executive Director and Spokesperson of public broadcaster watchdog FRIENDS (formerly Friends of Canadian Broadcasting), effective immediately.

Ahead of the anticipated introduction of several key pieces of legislation, FRIENDS says Boltman will serve “as a powerful advocate for Canadian voices at a critical time for the country’s cultural media policy.” Under Boltman’s leadership, FRIENDS says it will continue to engage Ottawa on CBC’s mandate and budget while working to ensure that social media and streaming platforms contribute equitably to Canadian content and journalism.

With more than 20 years of combined experience in policy and regulatory advocacy, content production, and entertainment law, Boltman was most recently Senior Vice President, Business Affairs & Operations at Halfire Entertainment (where she co-produced Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace). Previously, she served as Vice President, Business & Legal Affairs and General Counsel at the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA). Her resume also includes roles at DHX Media (now Wildbrain), the Canada Media Fund, the Canadian Film Centre and Alliance Atlantis Communications.

“Every step of my career has been marked by the same through line – carving out space for Canadian voices and protecting our culture and values in the process,” said Boltman, in a release. “I look forward to building on FRIENDS’ strong reputation and contributing to the conversation around journalism and democracy, the future of public broadcasting, and the regulation of Big Tech to ensure a level playing field for Canadians in our own backyard.”

Boltman is a member of the Board of Directors of POV, Youth Film and Media and Training Network and previously chaired the Program Advisory Committee for Centennial College’s Business of TV & Film Program, has served on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Retransmission Collective, and was a member of the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Televisions’ Canadian Screen Awards TV Rules and Regulations Committee.

She succeeds Daniel Bernhard, who departed FRIENDS in September to join the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC) as CEO. Bernhard had been with the organization since 2018, when he took over for FRIENDS founder Ian Morrison.


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Connie Thiessen
Connie Thiessen
Connie has worked coast-to-coast as a reporter, editor, anchor and host at CKNW and News 1130 in Vancouver, News 95.7 and CBC in Halifax, and CFCW Edmonton, among other stations. With a passion for music, film and community service, she led News 95.7 to a 2013 Atlantic Journalism Award and regional RTDNA award for Best Radio Newscast. More recently, she was nominated for Music Journalist of the Year at Canadian Music Week 2019. To report a typo or error please email -

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