The end of the Bill Good/Pamela Martin era at CTV News Vancouver represents much more than just a changing of the guard: it’s also the final gasp in a major assault that began on BCTV by CTV seventeen years ago.
Television stations are always in competition for audience and ratings growth …but about a decade ago, CTV launched a huge new effort (I hear with a special budget of $28 million) to take on the Newshour and end it’s six and sometimes seven-to-one dominance over CTV in the ratings.
They introduced their new permanently-dedicated CTV News 9 helicopter; began to promote themselves as BC-CTV (a play on BCTV’s old nomenclature and perhaps even an attempt to confuse viewers?) and they hired away BCTV’s two top waiting-in-the-wings anchors … Good and Martin. And they poured a lot of money/resources into revamping their show/look/reporting.
It didn’t work.
Sure, CTV’s show did improve, and did narrow the usual ratings gap to, as I understand it, between four and five-to-one … but that could hardly be considered a victory in view of the millions of dollars invested in the Good/Martin product over the years.
So with CTV’s financial woes laid bare before the CRTC last year ,and the high cost of being host broadcaster to the 2010 Olympics, the behind the scenes talk has been going on for quite a while: how long would CTV continue to invest in the pair’s reportedly close to a $750,000 to a million-dollars-a-year combined cost?
From what I can see, whether they decided to leave on their own, or were they pushed is a kind of chicken-and-egg question. The official release, and Good on his show Wednesday, clearly indicated it was their decision to jump. But media wags will always wonder whether they had swords at their backs or could sense the “end” was near.
This does not mean, of course, that CTV’s fight for ratings against BCTV (now Global or Shaw TV, whatever you want to call them) is over. In fact, I believe their product is much improved over what it was even a year ago …and some of their first-rate investigative features have raised their profile and the credibility as challengers.
But with Good and Martin’s departures, the decade-old major assault on BCTV has ended … in a costly failure.
And I speculate the naming of Mike Killeen and Tamara Taggart as replacements for Good and Martin shows that CTV is more interested in making do and cutting costs at least for now than making another major attempt to take on the Newshour.