Posts Tagged ‘local television’

G&M TODAY: We still watch TV. So why are stations going out of business?

March 11, 2009 2 comments

This was the title of an article appearing in today’s Globe & Mail, written by TV critic John Doyle (

I agree that TV viewership is not as much of a problem as is advertising. TV shows reach larger audiences than any other medium, hands down and that is not going to change for a long time. Advertisers have lowered their ad spending due to economic pressure; however this will be a temporary problem with little impact on the long term profitability of private broadcasters. I also agree with Doyle in that the owners of media companies like CTVGM and Canwest have corporate balance sheet problems that need solving, but that this is independent of business units’ P/L performance. But in this crappy economy, sacrifices are needed and whether we like it or not – local TV is invetably going to be the sacrificial lamb. And that signals a much deeper problem that Canadians seem to be reluctant to digest.

The CRTC’s regulation of the Canadian broadcasting is hurting more than it is helping at this point. Technology is the culprit and there’s no turning back. Private broadcasters no longer have incentives to produce local content and so, small and unprofitable stations are going black. I started my career in local TV and never would have come to this point had it not been for CJNT Montreal – a station now on the market for sale. I was saddened by the news last month but from a business POV, you can’t argue with it.

Sadly, I fear that chopping the local TV station is going to continue long after the economy recovers from the recession – largely because of the growing convenience and acceptance of the internet. It’s simply becoming too expensive to sustain a local TV station’s operations. Don’t agree with me? Ask 5 people where they went go get their news today. Depending on who (and when) you’ve asked, I don’t think the local evening news will be as popular of a choice as it was a few years ago. And nor will print versions of newspapers. So why invest in the local evening (or morning) news if viewers today have 24-hour news channels, online information updated 3 times per minute and access to all of it on their mobile phones? The answer, in my opinion is obvious but hard to swallow because we are proud of our local culture.

Is local TV doomed? What will we do without it? Or is there something that can be done to ensure local communities are represented on Canadian airwaves?