Friday, February 27, 2009

The sands are shifting under our feet

It must be a relief for private media outlets to splash CBC’s troubles on the front page. There was an avalanche of news about the public broadcaster’s financial woes and the CMG officially responded to it here.

But it’s actually make or break day for Canwest. Today’s the day for the conglomerate’s creditors to decide whether they will continue to put up much-needed cash to continue operations at the TV stations and newspapers.

Torstar is going through an upheaval of its own.

And CTV, the author of some of Torstar’s despair, has taken the interesting step of making its licence renewal application public ahead of the CRTC making it public. Ivan Fecan sent a memo to staff today saying that “the situation with the CTV stations is alarming (and) the situation with the 'A's is grave.” And CHUM, which CTV owns, says it is eliminating 40 jobs.

In explaining the closing down of three stations and the abandoning of 45 rebroadcast transmitters that bring free access to CTV programming to dozens of communities, Fecan noted: “We are a private broadcaster. We are not the CBC. We are here because we make a profit from the service we provide.”

We who work on the front lines of this crisis probably have some of the best ideas to save the services we provide to our audiences and readers. That’s certainly true of the folks at Canwest’s CHCH Hamilton station, who are spearheading an effort to hold on to their station and provide even better local coverage.

If you have any ideas, or know of any that are floating around, please don’t be shy. Share.

I’m doing some research on the topic myself and hope to share what I find in future posts.


  1. The loss of all these rebroadcast transmitters presents business opportunities. One of the transmitters on CTV's list serves the Kingston area, which has easy access to multiple American signals including WWNY (CBS) and WWTI (ABC) from Watertown. CTV should be prepared to allow someone to start up a local CTV affiliated station (i.e., not owned by CTV, like the station in Thunder Bay) in Kingston/Belleville. Could give CKWS a run for its money.

  2. As someone far wiser than me once said -- "You don't kill a snake by cutting off its tail." CTV is being no brighter about saving its business than it was in building a model that can't be sustained.


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