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Parsons Fails to Make Much Impact

July 27th, 2010 · 16 Comments

As a taxpayer, I sure hope the publicly funded  Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) isn’t paying anchor Tony Parsons a huge amount of cash!

Because in the current  tour-de-ratings  (there are no real ratings WARS locally any more), the 72-year-old veteran isn’t even close to donning  the yellow leader’s jersey … the one he used to wear years, and decades ago.

For news junkies, the news in April that Tony Parsons had joined CBC News had generated a great deal of excitement.   But three months later, I doubt the compettion really worries much about him any more.

Friends in the industry have given me an unofficial  peak at some recent news ratings.

First …as a barometer,  let’s start with the figures a few weeks after Parsons joined CBC:    the rationgs  May 19 (while the Stanley Cup Playoffs were still going on)   gave CBC local news at 6 p.m.  Zero.Point Two of a ratings point .   That’s  two-tenths of a single ratings point … or on that day,  about 36,000 viewers in in the 25-54 year old demographic group. That same week, my source says, CTV had  ONE POINT SIX rating points in the 25-54 demographic (79,000 viewers) while Global championed them all with FOUR POINT FIVE ratings points (261,000) in the same demographic.

Well, the hockey season is well over … and my intepretation of the figures through June and into July show the addition of Tony to the team has done almost nothing to the CBC ratings.

On July 16,  in the 25-54 demographic, CBC News reportedly drew a ZERO POINT THREE ratings point;  CTV captured a ZERO POINT SEVEN, while Global wiped up with a SEVEN POINT FIVE.

Ratings information provided me from another source, for the entire week of July 12-18, tell a similar tale.

CBC News at Six scored a ZERO POINT FOUR ratings point; while CTV pulled in a ZERO POINT NINE; and Global topped with a FIVE POINT FOUR.

During the weeks in between, the figures shift tiny bits up and down, but basically I don’t see Parsons as having much impact or attracting and sizeable new audience or masses of viewers away from his old home at Global.

Why?

Maybe he’s just too old … like me, part of the past, but of course, I’m retired!  :) Perhaps it’s the overall package … stories, reporters, production values … that are just as important?  And I suspect , old habits (if not old anchors anymore) die hard with viewers:  so many are so used to watching thew Newshour for so long,  breaking that habit may take another whole new generation of viewers.

But news junkies need not fear complacency!   CTV News at Six is bringigng on board a new assignment editor, effective mid-September:  former Global reporter, news producer and Global National Managing editor Elaine McKay.

McKay knows news and she knows the “BCTV” way of  choosing stories, asking questions,  shooting video and story telling.  She could actually stir the troops at CTV to do battle again … that is, if she can fight off interference and agendas from Toronto (remember all those horrible JUNO garbage promos forced on the  local news station?  I can still hear the channel xchangers clicking away!)

But looks like ONE thing McKay won’t have to worry much about …  her old boss Parsons  breathing very hard over her shoulder,  from down the road at CBC.

Harv Oberfeld

Tags: Media

16 responses so far ↓

  • 1 frosty // Jul 27, 2010 at 3:39 am

    Personally, I’m surprised by the numbers although I think these things take more time…old channel habits are very hard to break. For me, CBC has become a solid # 2 choice. Although Tony’s voice is failing a little, the chemistry between Claire, Shane and him is far better than when Ian was there. And he seems to bring out the best in Gloria as well. Patience all…..

    (Response: Patience? Isn’t he now advancing towards 73? I’m almost sorry he hasn’t caught on more … would have been great to see a real shakeup in the ratings. And would have improved the quality too for the viewers. But he’s no newby who needs time to catch on: I think any success would have come almost right away …and stayed. Apparently just didn’t happen in a major way though. h.o)

  • 2 Cora // Jul 27, 2010 at 4:03 am

    I don’t dislike Tony but I miss Ian. I have watched CBC local news for quite a long time because I don’t enjoy watching Deb on Global and I really don’t like the CTV news much.
    I thought the CBC news team was great as it was.

  • 3 jack bennest // Jul 27, 2010 at 5:48 am

    Harvey – could not agree more. We have a choice
    Global, CTV or CBC – many folk have favourites. If Tony was on Global I would be there, I watch Global not for the new guy, his wife or anyone else in particular. I like the morning crew, the noon crew and the evening crew – family members all to me. Gloria, Tony, Bill, Pamela – all on friendly terms but not my main choice. I think the numbers speak volumes for the history and past of CHAN, BCTV and Global – it will take decades to change it – if ever.

    (Response: Exactly. By the way, readers may recognize the name Jack Bennest: worked in BC broadasting for 15 years, including stints at CJOR and CKNW. h.o)

  • 4 Lynn // Jul 27, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    Aren’t summer ratings kind of lame? Most people are enjoying outside activities. I do think there is too much weather cut in’s though. I get a sense that the CBC news is brief, and I don’t like how Tony quizes the news reporter. Seems silly.

    (Response: Certainly summer ratings don’t hit the levels of Fall/Winter. However what has remained basically consistent is the ratio gap: all the stations’ relative positions have basically stayed constant …thus my conculsion that Tony has faield to attract, excite large numbers of new CBC viewers. h.o)

  • 5 Henri Paul // Jul 27, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    In the final analysis, it matters not what you, frosty , jack bennest or me, think or watch as were no longer considered viewers. Were all to old. (according to the demographics)
    Im also curious as what the female -male ratio would be in these 25-54 year old demographics .

    In order to have a fairer assessment in regards to Tonys May -July ratings . A comparison chart of Gloria and Ian’s last year May -July rating average would have been be nice to see.

    (Response: Ratings are actually pretty secret internal documents…but if someone has them from May 2009, would love to have a look. h.o.)

  • 6 David in North Burnaby // Jul 28, 2010 at 4:51 am

    I never understood why it was thought anyone would start watching al-Ceebeera simply because Tony was going to read the prop … news.
    Does anyone’s voice, face, etc make all that much difference, I wondered?
    The answer would seem to be: not really.

  • 7 Crankypants // Jul 28, 2010 at 7:57 am

    I think the CBC blew any impact value that Tony may have brought by not waiting until the NHL playoffs were over. There was no consistent time for their evening newscasts. In fact the news was almost treated as a filler between games.

    Another thing is that I’m not so sure people watch a particular newscast because of the anchor. Back in the day the when rabbit ears and antennas were the only options, we got our Canadian news on the CBC. It was the only game in town. As new local stations came along we were able to test drive new sources and individuals got to expand their horizons. And in those days, I doubt there were too many homes that had more than one television, which meant whichever station the adults in the home chose to watch for their news likely became the station the children became familiar with. I believe that we are creatures of habit, and as such do the same things over and over because it is convenient.

    The question becomes, did ChanTV gain and keep the lion’s share of the ratings because of Tony Parsons or the quality of the product he was able to deliver? Does the news anchor or the substance draw viewers? Or is it just the habits we form and stick to? I suspect it may be the latter and the odds of a seismic shift in the ratings is unlikely. People are more likely to change because they become disillusioned with a particular product rather than be enticed to follow a news anchor as if he/she is a rock star.

    (Response: Clearly the anchor is not as important as the overall product…. just a stabilizer who pulls it all together in a tryustworthy appearing package. BUT I suspect the intent in the Tony case was to capitalize on HIS high profile, reading skills and what they may have expected to be a loyal “following”. Not! And the ratings show that. Now if they are aiming at a NEW generation of viewers, I believe he could even be a detriment. Ask anyone you know under 30 what they think of his reading the news and you’ll see what I mean. h.o)

  • 8 Lynn // Jul 28, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Crankypants,
    You are right about back in the day….
    My Ma and Pa Kettle controlled the black and white (they bought a remote controlled colour TV w/ a telephone in it when we kids moved out). We watched BCTV news every night. If memory serves me right they didn’t watch CBC because it was gov’t funded and believed an independent station provided objective reporting. I’m sorry Harvey, but I remember as a teenager watching you asking tough questions and making your subject of squirm. I couldn’t wait for you to appear on the hill!
    In retrospect your reporting ability and skill introduced me to critical thinking.
    I think news warriors such as yourself and Tony are capable of offering a lot.
    I suspect the news industry is on the cusp of a revolutionary change because of technology, however if the news is objective and tough questions are asked and answered then survival is ensured. Time honoured warriors like Tony shall always have a place in living rooms.
    Just a thought.
    Funny how the website wikileak is becoming a go-to place for answers because traditional news programs are stepping in. Only when the proviberial crap hits the fan do news stations pick up on the popular news item.

    (Response: Thanks. The lack of tough questionning these days drives me mad. The other night was watching a CTV story about Abbotsford residents complaining that a proposed new development would destroy their green forest scape. The Obvious question to me … missed!!! … what about the destroyed forest construction of their OWN homes had caused not many years back????? Looked like a perfect example of ..I’m here now. So no more building! Could have been a much better story…but probably no one even questionned the young reporter about the miss. h.o)

  • 9 RJ // Jul 28, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    I still enjoy watching Tony he portrays the honesty and integrity few anchors can emulate. Watching TV news is becoming so boring. The repetitious pandering to the weather and traffic reports seems to fill far too much air time. In depth reporting with informed guests discussing local matters would be far more interesting.

    I switch back and forth between local and CNN, sometimes I even watch BBC.

  • 10 SC // Jul 28, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    Unfortunately, due to the cuts from the early 2000′s, and the introduction of Canada Now, which reduced CBC local newscasts to 30 mins, CBC locally has never really recovered since.

    I also think CBC is ill served by having a truncated 6 pm broadcast and having Coronation Street on at 6:30. At the very least, in Vancouver, have Gloria anchor the 5-5:30 (think Deb Hope and Early News), and if they have to have Coronation Street on, have it at 5:30 and put Tony and Gloria on a full 6:00 pm hour long broadcast.

    While I like both Tony and Gloria, a huge problem is that there is almost no difference between the 5:00, 5:30 and 6:00 broadcasts. I think if they scrapped 5:30, and put more into the 6:00 broadcast, there could be potential for improvement, but at the same time, perhaps the viewers have spoken and nothing will change.

    On a side note: Harv, the ratings you got, is that just for Vancouver only, or do those numbers include the CBC 6:00 broadcast that also airs on CHEK?

    (Response: They were for Vancouver area. If I recall coerrectly from my working years, adding in province wide raises the total vieweing numbers but the ratings points remain pretty well the same.. In Fact, Global does even better. CHEK was not included in what I saw. h.o)

  • 11 Rob // Jul 29, 2010 at 2:05 am

    Harvey:
    I have watched BCTV from the 60′s ( family habit) I have seen many changes in news reporters and anchorman. It has change very much over the years. Back then, reporters were to get the real story and not be happy get themselves on air.
    The reporting these days is very sad. I do miss your reporting from the hill and how you gave some great interviews.
    I now live in Victoria and have supported CHEK. I like the “local” feeling they give. I was watching the Global morning edition till last month. I got tired of it being more of a entertainment show and stories about “famous people” instead of giving us a update of overnight “news”. I also enjoy CBC after our CHEK news at 5:30. It is a refreshing change. Not the best, but I do want to give my support them both. Global has become too soft. CTV? watched them for late night news in the old days but gave that up for a extra hrs sleep.
    I think we will see a shift out west but it will be slow.
    Keep up the great work. Never miss your Blog.

    (Response: Many thanks. You know, as a BCTV “newspaper”-trained reporter, we were always taught pictutres and stories …not egos … were paramount, and as a kind of a big guy, I used to hate anyway to put myself on camera, esp in the beginning, and used pictures to cover wherever I could. Of course, as I became more experienced and comfortable , I found there were times I actually wanted to look RIGHT AT THE VIEWER to explain a point …or even offer a little humour. That caught on ..as did a lot of on-camera chasing and questionning of politicians, who squirmed and lied and bullsh*tted …and the public saw it all. And really understood what was going on. One day that may return? h.o)

  • 12 Bendawg // Jul 29, 2010 at 4:55 am

    Do you think that Global’s big lead is in any way related to the fact they can produce newscasts morning, noon, evening and night to promote across the broadcast day (and help create a viewer habit as the news station)? I have a friend that TiVos EVERY one of their newscasts.

    CBC lost noon in the latest round of budget cuts and don’t have a local presence in morning or much of one in late-night. I also miss hearing Claire on CBC Radio.

    As a younger viewer, I do struggle with how Tony reads the news (noted above) and also miss when CBC @ 6 was an hour – now I get home too late to catch any of the in-depth content and coverage from 5-6- I really only get the 6 pm, which doesn’t even include sports.

    (Response: I’m sure having many newscasts attracts some regulars who get comfortable with a single provider. But a lot of it is repeat stuff, and with many at work, the Newshour remains the Number One draw.
    And so many viewers have literally grown up watching the Newshour, and with some long time reporters/personalities still around (Daly, Coxford, Chernecki, McCardel, Deb, Wayne Cox) there is a comfort zone that’s hard to break. Unless people started to hear CONSISTENTLY of great stories, fun reporting being done elsewhere. h.o)

  • 13 Sharon P // Jul 29, 2010 at 5:41 am

    With all respect to Tony Parsons, I watch less often now that Ian has gone. Somehow I find the newscast less personal and I am not as connected to it. When Ian was broadcasting, I always watched, never switched channels…but it has lost the chemistry that made the newscast feel like “my newscast”. Bring Ian back, I’ll watch every night and all will be forgiven. Promise.

  • 14 gordon // Jul 29, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    I have’nt witched Tony much, Global has had a very long time to build up a very large & loyal audience & that may never change.

    Apparantly there will be some changes in anchors at CTV any idea what they might be?

    (Response: I know of no anchor change coming at CTV ..but would not be surprised. Some time ago I suggested one could soon be in the works…because CTV is cash strapped and might be weighing the cost/benefits of having TWO high cost anchors, with ratings basically going nowhere. h.o)

  • 15 Gary // Jul 29, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    One of the commentators in this string referred to the CBC as being tainted with government propaganda. I found BCTV to be very Right-leaning, and tainted to support the business lobby (the hand that feeds it) in a joint business/BCTV campaign to oust the Harcourt/Clark NDP government.

    Evidence: Whenever Tony or some other BCTV reporter spoke of a government program that did poorly or cost too much, it was “the NDP government.” Tony or the reporter would give a look of disgust over the story. When a government program was successful, it was suddenly the “BC government.” BCTV made mountains out of NDP mole-hills, but has given Campbell’s Social Credit.. er… “Liberals” a boulevard ride, despite its fish farm eco-crimes and public- asset giveaways.

    The BCTV slant was, and is, obvious.

    It all makes me wonder why CBC would want Tony. He probably wouldn’t be attractive to the CBC demographic.

  • 16 A. G. Tsakumis // Aug 6, 2010 at 6:09 am

    ACtually I was away on vacation and sorry I didn’t see this earlier. CTV and CBC have actually switched. CBC is now second in viewers per night and CTV is a distant third. I, too, have seen the numbers and here’s how they add up.

    CTV: 39,000
    CBC:80,000
    Global: 272,000

    And to be honest, I don’t think anyone expected Tony to make a huge change in the Global numbers–least of all Tony.

    (Response: Interesting. Alex. After you suggested the CBC is in second on your site and in this response …i went back to my source. Here’s their numbers for 25-54 demographic July 16: Global 347,000; CTV 60,000; and CBC 16,000. And for June 23: Global 248,000; CTV 71,000 and CBC 37,000. h.o)