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CRTC Should Beware CTV (Bell Media) Tears of Woe!

November 26th, 2015 · 19 Comments

This coming January, the Canadian Radio-Television, Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) will begin hearings on the future of local and community television in Canada.

So it was NO surprise to me that CTV (Bell Media) took a large axe to its tv and radio news operations a week ago in a loud and bloody massacre heard, seen and suffered by its personnel, its operations and its viewers from coast to coast.

The slaughter …which began earlier in November, reportedly claimed 380 victims …. who lost their jobs.

“While it is very difficult to part ways with valued colleagues, the changes are an essential step in ensuring that Bell Media’s cost structure reflect the realities of revenue performance in media and broadcasting, and that we remain leaders in a fast-changing industry,” the company said in a statement.

At least, THAT was their official line.

The CRTC should take it all for what I believe it is:  a total SHAM …designed to soften up the CRTC (and Canadians), so that local and community television can be further slashed by Bell Media …. turning “Canadian”  into more and more of a US re-broadcaster, augmented by Canadian “content” … reality shows, dramas, documentaries etc … that can be run over and over again, coast to coast all year round (even repeated for several years) … much cheaper in the long run than NEW daily, news and current affairs programming.

Among those sacrificed on the CTV chopping block were reportedly many high profile, long-time devoted CTV employees: including CTV anchors Dan Matheson, Bill Hutchison and Suneel Joshi; Ottawa’s CTV News co-anchor Carole Ann Meehan; Ottawa sports reporter Carolyn Waldo; Ottawa Morning Live host Lois lee; CTV News Channel anchor Amanda Blitz; Toronto Newstalk host Mike Toth; TSN co-host David Bastl; and, TSN reporter Sheri Forde.

In Vancouver,  among the 20 staff falling to the axe were sports anchor Perry Solkowski, weather man Michael Kuss, hockey host Jeff Paterson; reporters Lisa Rossington, Peter Grainger …and assignment editor Len Catling (some thanks for helping bring CTV Vancouver’s ratings much closer to Global’s!!!).   A producer, the librarian, a camera op, an engineer, web operator also gone: these jobs are behind the scenes, but DO affect the quality of what we see on air.

Bell Media argues that local tv, radio etc. has been losing money: very expensive to operate, while advertising revenues have been dropping.

However, the CRTC has already taken SEVERAL steps to help Canadian networks … including REMOVING restrictions on advertising minutes allowed per hour; and even DECREASING their Canadian content requirements by five per cent …. a HUGE gift to the networks.

And I hope the CRTC will look CLOSELY at Bell Media’s STOCK growth …PROOF that the company is in fact doing, WELL …VERY WELL!

BCE shares in November, 2005 sold for $28.40 each; by January, 2011, they had risen to $35.63 each … and NOW, they sell for almost $57 EACH!!!!

Sound like poverty to you?    Needing even MORE corporate welfare?

Let’s keep it real.

TV network executives try to argue that news is too costly, but in my view, fail to adequately take into account the overall picture of their industry … that their ENTIRE operations MUST BE EXAMINED IN TOTALITY.

We would not allow a hospital to severely curtail/shut down its emergency department, because it is too costly/labour-intensive, and just do lucrative surgery operations; we would not allow energy companies to provide electricity only to large, profitable industrial consumers; and, we no longer permit car insurance companies to siphon off only the best drivers for basic coverage, dropping the less-profitable parts of their operations.

So it is … and SHOULD BE ..with TV/RADIO network conglomerates: Canada’s air waves belong to ALL Canadians …. not just a few huge conglomerates.

The CRTC must NOT allow them to skim off and exploit the most profitable aspects of overall tv/radio operations.

Local and community news IS part of the broadcasting business in Canada … and the CRTC should not be fooled by the latest staff blood-letting ”performance”  staged, I believer, by Bell Media to reduce their CTV local news/community operations even more.

And I hope it is also not lost on the CRTC that Bell Media earlier this month still reported revenues of $692 MILLION, and an “adjusted” (LOL!) profit of $183 MILLION for just the past quarter.

Harv Oberfeld

→ 19 CommentsTags: British Columbia · Media · National

Tories Pay for Harper’s Insolence/Arrogance

October 19th, 2015 · 94 Comments

The pundits and the experts got it wrong again. For 78 days, and even before the election was called, they told us over and over the Number One issue in this election campaign was the ECONOMY.

No it was not.

What we saw Monday was a repudiation and rejection of one man: Stephen Harper.

In fact, almost NO ONE I heard from or talked to during the campaign said the reason they would NOT vote Conservative was because of some Tory tax policy, budget plan, foreign affairs policies or even environmental shortcomings.

It was because of Harper.

They had enough of his arrogance and insolence that got worse over the years: the disrespect for the public’s right to know … or even ask questions; the gagging of PUBLIC scientists and PUBLIC servants; the  downgrading of MPs to little more than performing puppets; the snubbing of Premiers WE elect to express OUR perspective on the national stage; the cuts to services; the control freakiness that turned into downright meanness; and a personal coldness and deafness to others who did not share his views.

That’s what clearly turned off the voters.

In fact, I’m somewhat heartened by that, because it shows even  Canadians who have rare or no direct contact with federal government politicians, departments, programs, officials WERE paying attention to media and social media reporting/complaints about all these things happening and realized WHAT Harper was doing and how BAD it was for our democracy and our country.

People want to be valued … and not just one day every four or five years.

Trudeau the Elder gave the West the finger: Harper gave ordinary Canadians across the whole country the finger!

Remember, most of the people who went to the polls  to toss Harper out are the same ones who gave him a majority four years ago.  What does that tell us about their disappointment … and disgust!

Tory strategists should have realized the longer election campaign would expose Canadians much more to what Harper had become: his coldness; the lack of any real passion; the total control freak;  offering no vision and no longer able to inspire.

Not even the promises of more tax breaks, increased write-offs, a four-year tax “lock”  and 1.3 million new jobs could buy their votes this time.

So why did so many pundits think the Economy was Numero Uno?

Because the questions put to voters in all the polling I saw left out the one specific issue that voters zeroed in on: the Harper Nastiness Factor.

I was polled three times by phone during the campaign: one just wanted to know my voting preferences …nothing about issues; two others did try to zero in on reasons for voting choices, but highlighted traditional issues: the economy; justice/crime; security; foreign affairs; and the closest they came to the REAL reason  many would vote this time was … Who would make the best Prime Minister?

That’s not quite the same as How much do you DISLIKE Harper? Enough to vote for anyone else just to get him out?

Admittedly, those do not sound like normal questions to put to the voters during a normal election campaign, but let’s keep it real: this was NOT a normal Canadian federal election campaign, by almost any standard … including the massive turnout.

The results show THAT the TOP reason millions of Canadians made their choice was to GET RID of Harper.

And even the NDP fell victim to that determination.

Although NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and his Santa Claus bag full of promises for almost everyone  failed to sell with the voters, I never detected any resentment directed at them from undecided voters even close to that aimed at Harper.

The NDP lost seats in Quebec because of their their principled support for the niqab in Quebec (I told you they’re xenophobic down there!), and lost some support elsewhere in Canada partly because of their opposition to the TPP, but mostly because only Trudeau projected a real chance of throwing Harper and the Tories out …without a substantial change in the direction of the country.

Maybe the experts, the pundits and pollsters should start paying more attention to what is being said in the blogosphere. It was all right here for anyone to see.

In a way, this should be a bit reassuring for Conservative supporters: judging by the millions of votes they garnered, the results were not a massive ideological repudiation of conservative fiscal or foreign or even justice values  (despite what the extreme partisans on the left may hallucinate).

It was the rejection of the disdain for the public that they allowed Harper to impose over time.

If they get rid of him as soon as they can, and get a ”progressive” leader, who restores respect for ordinary Canadians AND our basic rights to ask questions and get information     … they could make a comeback.

And although I voted Liberal this time, I have no doubt Justin Trudeau’s and the Liberals’  term in office … over time … will give the Tories AND the NDP lots of opportunity and hope for regeneration before the next time around.

I personally would have preferred a strong Liberal minority government … not a majority.

Now we’ll see whether Trudeau will live up to the hopes and expectations of those who voted Liberal … or just become our new cold, self-absorbed dictator.

Harv Oberfeld

(BLOG BREAK: Time to enjoy some vacation travel. The Blog will be shut down Thursday … including the Comments function.  Back by the end of November.)

→ 94 CommentsTags: National