Trudeau/CRTC Allow Broadcasters to Shred the Critical Fabric of the Nation: Local TV News

It’s not what it used to be: the choice of stories that get covered are often irrelevant to many viewers; the caliber of research/journalism/writing has been diminished; and, because of the lack of experienced journalists now hired to do the job, the quality of questioning … or lack thereof … is often just an embarrassment.

Not the best way to counter the biggest dilemma facing television news in BC, across Canada, the US and, indeed, the world: instantly available Internet news sources; massive social media; and, easy availability of hundreds more TV channels from which to choose.

Although broadcasters in Canada hide their ratings from the public, I have no doubt local TV News viewership is down.

But, perhaps some of this has been done and/or allowed to happen quite deliberately?

Broadcasters … especially private corporately-owned and managed TV corporations … have been cutting back on their local news offerings for years now: cutting staff numbers; canceling news shows; hiring inexperienced, poor reporters/writers; and, slashing budgets …. making it all but impossible for those still surviving news operations to offer up any more than the bare basics.

And private radio stations, programming, staffs … and news coverage/reporting/questioning across the country … have also been slashed.

Saving the broadcast corporations billions of dollars … to sweeten their bottom lines, pump up share prices and reward shareholders.

And Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his government and the CRTC have all fallen for it!

In fact, the Liberal government and the CRTC have facilitated the shredding of local TV news programs/reporting/staffing across the country for years now …. I believe, grievously hurting the fabric of our nation.

In February, Bell Canada Enterprises announced it would “sell 45 of its 103 radio stations and will end weekday noon newscasts on all CTV stations except in Toronto. It also announced cuts to weekend newscasts, evening programs and BNN Bloomberg daytime programming,” the Toronto Star reported.

Federal Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge noted at the time that, for years, federal governments had allowed BCE “to consolidate media and buy up local TV and radio assets in exchange for a commitment to maintain these services.”

“In the past decade, when acquisitions were allowed by these big companies, it came with a promise,” St-Onge said. “Today, they backed away from that promise,” the CBC reported.

But BCE is not alone in slashing for cash.

In February as well, the Globe and Mail reported TVA, owned by Quebecor, would be “laying off roughly one-third of its workforce …. slash 547 jobs, including 300 positions in in-house production, 98 operations positions and 149 positions in other departments.”

Last June, Canadian Press reported “BCE Inc. announced it would close or sell nine radio stations and slash six per cent of Bell Media’s workforce in response to unfavourable policy and regulatory conditions.”

In October, Rogers Communications announced to total closure of CityNews Ottawa radio station after the company, CP said, also “began offering voluntary departure packages to some employees in July as it worked to integrate with Shaw Communications Inc. after the closure of its $26-billion purchase of the carrier.”

And, also in October, Corus Entertainment revealed it had cut 15% of its workforce over the year.

The Trudeau government has “harumphed” about the cuts and closures but neither the feds nor the CRTC have done anything to stop them and preserve these important threads that weave together the communities that make up the fabric of our nation.

I submit that private broadcasters should be required to treat their news components as a REQUIRED appendage tied to their licences to operate other more profitable aspects of their operations: prime-time network programming; their dozens of specialty channels; wireless operations; telecommunications; and, even share ownerships of outside enterprises like the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens.

Local TV and radio news …. NOT national news programs … is where MOST Canadians still turn every day to find out what’s happening in their cities, their region, their province … and, sometimes, even their neighbourhoods.

In Canada, a country stretching 7,560 kilometres across six time zones, it is utterly impossible … and even ridiculous … for Trudeau/Liberal government/CRTC and Canada’s broadcasters to even pretend that regional “inserts” or even a once-a-day one-hour newscast (covering local, regional, provincial, national, international news, weather, sports) serves the nation sufficiently.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre “has called on the prime minister to claw back some of his government’s federal grants to media companies,” CTV reported.

But there’s no sign so far of any ACTION proposed by either Trudeau or Poilievre to stop further deterioration/holes in Canada’s local news fabric.

And long-term, that will hurt Canadian communities and the very nature of our nation a lot more than some of the higher-profile issues now in the “news”.

Harv Oberfeld

(Follow @harveyoberfeld on “X” for FREE First Alerts to new postings on this Blog.)

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13 Responses to Trudeau/CRTC Allow Broadcasters to Shred the Critical Fabric of the Nation: Local TV News

  1. D. M. Johnston says:

    The problem with the News; the CRTC; and the Federal government, is that Trudeau the Younger doesn’t care anymore. For Trudeau the younger, the news exposes his daft “post national” vision for Canada; his about to fail immigration policy; his failure to deal realistically with global warming (Hint: you cannot tax global warming out of existence); his pandering to the first nations; the growing antisemitism in Canada; the destruction of the Canadain military; the treasonous influence by senior Liberals with china; and I can go on.

    Our poor little drama teacher is dealing with his world of sparkle ponies and fairy-tales.

    Now a real media we once had, the Jack Websters the Rafe Mairs and yourself would research and follow a story until its conclusion, but no more. Our media is now controlled by corporate entities and hedge funds to make money and that is the bottom line and to hell with news.

    The CRTC is nothing more than a sop for good Liberals to suck at the public tit and no more. This is the Canada today.

    Has anyone in the media ever asked why John Horgan, with little international diplomatic skills is now ambassador to Germany? What favours did Horgan do for Trudeau to get such a plum job (oh, I think I know), because I would think he would be the last man in Canada to be given that position, especially when an extremely bellicose Russia is threatening all sorts of mayhem.

    I subscribe to Terry Glavin and his report why Selina Robinson left the NDP leaves me enraged, yet where is our local media? Nowhere!

    The CBC is a joke these days and maybe Poilievre will put out of it’s misery. The CBC should be so much better, but it isn’t.

    In the end, it is Trudeau, SNC Lavalin’s great friend, who doesn’t give a damn, as long he can give a billion dollars here and a billion dollars there, currying favour with with some squeaky group or another for that all important photo-op and 10 second soundbite that will be on the evening news.

    The good ship Canada is adrift in a sea of ennui; the captain is vacant and the crew is abandoning ship, letting the passengers fend for themselves. And our mainstream media, oh some defaced a rainbow sidewalk and it ruined someone’s day.

    (Response: I don’t think it’s that Trudeau “doesn’t care anymore”. I believe it’s that what he does care about has become increasingly removed from the daily challenges and struggles facing middle class working Canadians. His focus is far too concentrated on “bigger issues” (environment, climate change, refugees, immigration, First Nations, womens and gender isues) … all worthy causes for many, but while pursuing those, many Canadian feel he/his government have forgotten them, or worse, overly taxed, bled and exploited them to finance his preferred interests. h.o)

  2. RIsaak says:

    Just like Blockbuster video, advances in choices not historically available have sealed the fate of what we once had. Network TV news is dead, never to be returned to it’s former self.
    There are only so many $ available, CBC eats up over a billion, normal folks (not us older ones) seek instant information & the patience to sit through fluff stories and droning advertising is gone in today’s world. Ad revenue is minuscule, stories seem to be the same regardless of network/station, copy & paste journalism is normal and somehow the standard today. Folks won’t make the time to watch the current watered down, editorial biased drivel.

    Sadly, I think the entire legacy media business model is a failure in today’s world, no one in corporate news land seems to be capable of rejigging this failing business model. Further subsidies are a concept most find repugnant, with zero changes or upgrading of old failing standards, failure is assured.

    Time & technology respect no one. Continually repeating the same exercise that fails is absurd, no one in corporate news land seems to grasp this reality, just as no one in elected office does either.

    Personally I find subsidized business to be a waste of $, corporate entities fail all the time, corporate news is just one of many dinosaur businesses which should be allowed to fail, like countless others we seem to prop up with zero attempts by the bailed out businesses to adapt and change to maintain relevance.

    Sorry Harvey, where you toiled will never approach what it once was, that ship sailed long ago, never to return & no amount of public money can alter that reality. Now how do corporate news boards morph into a relevant & profitable operation, without the required subsidies and handouts seen today?

    (Response: There are still people … lots of them …working in the news business who care and want to improve the coverage (choice of stories, reporting, even video shooting, quality and editing) but the lack of resources and, in some cases, incompetent top management, makes it almost impossible. But I still live in hope for a return one day to owners/executives who believe … and understand the importance of local news coverage … their responsibilities to the community, and the hiring ratings possibilities as well. h.o.)

  3. Chuck B says:

    The only local news one can receive is CHEK televising on Vancouver Island which is employe owned..
    I phoned one local radio station and asked where there news director was…..he was located many kilometers away from the station. What kind of local coverage is that?
    I try not to listen to radio anymore but I do like VASSY KAPELOS on CTV. She has the “guts” to ask the tough questions which politicians do avoid
    Yes news is not covered but they do keep repeating the stories they have

    (Response: Local news is a public service. The federal government and CRTC should not just allow broadcasters to cream off the profits from their most lucrative programs and other services. The damage to the country, to every community and even to our democracy from the loss of coverage of local issues, neighbourhood concerns and events will be considerable and sometimes even irreversible. h.o.)

  4. D. M. Johnston says:

    I must preface this, with the death of George Garrett, CKNW’s and one of the best “newsies” in the business. Like Walter Cronkite, you believe what he reported. It was Garrett’s news stories and professionalism, that made CKNW Top Dog; sadly no more as Dead Dog ’98 has forgotten what makes a news organization not just good, but a public service.

    Local news, well today, it is shock headlines with little or no substance, soon to be forgotten by another outrage somewhere else.

    Just a few weeks ago we had a sub machine gun attack in Surrey and the media showed actual videos of the attack, but no real reporting.

    Sub machine guns are prohibitive weapons in Canada, as you cannot buy them legally in Canada, but one can in certain US States. This attack should have sent alarm bells with the provincial and federal government, but it didn’t and our media never pursued with hard hitting questions.

    One reason the politicians have ignored it is that they cannot use this attack for gun control legislation because these guns are illegal in Canada and obviously they were procured elsewhere.

    20 years ago, this would have been headline news across Canada! Nope, not today, where it becomes yesterday’s news.

    The media has been asleep on the switch with SkyTrain light metro news.

    There has been serious subsidence along the Broadway subway route, but the City of Vancouver (a huge proponent of the subway) says no and our local scribes don’t investigate any more.

    The government is still sticking with a $4.01 billion cost for the Langley extension, but this figure comes from 2021 and accounting for inflation, is today, around $4.5 billion. If one reads the latest News Release about the Langley extension, it seems the rail, the electrical and stations are still being negotiated and Email back east from a professional, told me yes the guideway itself will cost around $4 billion, but does not include the rail, the electrical, and stations, which will add another $500K or so.

    Really? Where is our local news on this one.

    I could go on and on about our SkyTrain light-metro system but our local news have been giving SkyTrain a free pass since Rafe Mair got the chop from NW. The Vancouver Sun has always given SkyTrain a free pass.

    Our local weeklies, once having real news, have been turned into “sunshine news” where controversy has to be avoided at all cost.

    What to do?

    First break up the conglomerates from owning media outlets and bring back private ownership.

    Today the once great NW98 is really Global news without TV cameras, a tiresome tirade of people who should not be in the radio business.

    Like much what Trudeau does or says, the unintentional consequences of his actions tend to cause even more damage to our media, but as long as he is re-elected, that OK by him.

    (Response: The “news” media today is no doubt different from what it was in George Garrett’s heyday. Escalating costs, diminishing resources, increasing hiring/assignment priorities based on diversity rather than journalistic excellence/experience, and declining top management dedication to news as a critical public service … have all taken a terrible toll. BUT local newscasts are still a very important part of the fabric that makes up our communities, ties together the widespread peoples throughout each province and knits together the cultural, historical and political tapestry that makes up our nation. Trudeau and the CRTC have allowed broadcasters to increasingly erode and lately kill off local news … and all the communities that make up this country will be poorer, isolated and lose much of their voice. Maybe that’s what the politicians, corporate and industrial leaders and polluters want! h.o)

    • Ijustdontknowanymore says:

      I think the last light burned out went out at CKNW when John McComb left. He was one of the last good ones that retired. Sadly his show was replaced with what I could best describe as fluff radio hosting. A complete joke. They’re nothing much anymore. Baldreys Beat on the Smythe show is a complete joke, and the rest of it is a production line of below qaulity goods. Anyways been well over a year or so I don’t listen at all. They don’t have the cajones anymore from what I can tell. They try advertising an air of strength in their broadcasting journalist abilities but I’m lost. All I can answer to that is, Say What !!

  5. R says:

    Isnt trudeau postnationalist?

    (Response: Many Canadians refer to him in many ways! h.o.)

  6. Gilbert says:

    Canada needs more balanced coverage. I know that we’re not supposed to speak I
    ill of the dead, but the media left the impression Brian Mulroney was perfect. At the end of his prime ministership, he had little support in western Canada.

    David Menzies of Rebel News is not everyone’s favorite reporter. However, he was treated very poorly by the RCMP for asking Chrystia Freeland questions There was a surely no need to arrest him.

    The amount of censorship is a great concern. Canada needs an independent media. It’s bad if everyone tells the same story.

    (Response: More proof the BC media are so out of touch with history, have almost no reporters capable of asking politics-based historical questions or have just lost their journalistic spark. I covered Parliament as the only BC full time TV reporter during Mulroney’s time in office: had anyone asked, I could have told them what it was like …watching so much money/power/attention flowing from Mulroney’s government into Quebec and Ontario, while BC got much less than its fair share. In fact, Global has lots of files (unless they’ve dumped them all?) of me going after Mulroney on issues, often my BC-based questions being ignored, while he took LOTS OF queries from Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto media …until I started to prefix my own with “Have a moment for Western Canadians, Prime Minister?” …and then saying “I guess not!” as he walked away … and showing that on BCTV! LOL! Viewers became quite pissed off with Mulroney/Tories …and he heard about it. In fact, on my memory wall in my den is a PMO photo of me interviewing Mulroney, with his personally penned inscription underneath “Harvey, I like you better without the microphone.” 🙂 h.o)

  7. Ijustdontknowanymore says:

    My sum up would be that I personally believe this government under Trudeau has been the most incompetent and stupid bunch I have ever witnessed in my entire voting life. It’s astounding. They make a mess of everything they touch.

    (Response: I can’t say the Trudeau government is “the most incompetent and stupid bunch I have ever witnessed” (I have found good and bad in all of them). But I am NOT impressed by Trudeau/Liberals’ coldness and callousness to the impact their carbon taxing policies are having on middle class working Canadians, their failure to ACT to stop the huge almost-monopolistic grocery chains from ripping off families, their failure to do anything to stop the multi-billion dollar communications/broadcast/wireless corporations from destroying local TV news (an essential part of the community fabric of the nation) and their “shifting” international principles … the latest to support an NDP motion that, if implemented, would save Hamas to fire thousands more rockets, murder, rape and kill Israelis (and oppress the Palestinians under its control) for decades more. Shame! h.o)

    • RIsaak says:

      Harvey, up here in the Shuswaps, the local food retailers (not Costco, Walmart or Loblaw chain stores) are far more greedy than those big companies, double the price in many instances. The big 3 are the only places to get bread under $3.00 a loaf, over double in the local (5 store Askews) chain for the same loaves. We do not have the plethora of different shopping choices that city dwellers do. In my experience, smaller grocers are far more expensive compared to the large retailers who the media has tried to make into the sole scapegoats in food price inflation. I read news a bunch, not a single story in the Okanagan bringing attention to food pricing up here, why? I suppose getting any news folks out of the office from behind their computer screens to actually do a touch of research is off limits these days. Beautiful sunny day here in $6/ loaf country!

      (Response: Smaller grocers everywhere are more expensive than the big retailers/superstores because they buy smaller quantities, therefore pay more. Although I have sometime seen sales/deals at independent stores better than at the chains. However, the profits of the big grocers (not the small outlets) have skyrocketed in recent years, well beyond inflation and extra costs associated with Covid etc. At a time when so many Canadians can’t make ends meet, Trudeau/government should be doing more to lower prices, increase competition , even if it means breaking up some of the largest grocery conglomerates. h.o) h.o)

    • Ijustdontknowanymore says:

      The reprehensible wrong doing or worse, regarding what Trudeau and his hierarchy commited regarding SNC Lavalin case and his attempts at obstruction of justice and Jody Wilson Rayboulds job of upholding justice can never be forgiven nor Trudeaus bending over for China that should have been seen by more Canadians the day he said he admires China’s dictatorship and it ability to get things done. Sounds like a mini Trump cheerleading Putin and stabbing his fellow citizens and even men and women of the Armed Forces in the back. I would be really angry if I we’re still a soldier and heard Trudeau say that. How disgusting can a Prime Minister become. Its unforgiveable. He’s had to many disgraceful and shameful scandals and now doing what him and his people are doing with the carbon tax is stupid and grossly incompetent and even negligent. He’s made Canada, or actually himself and cabinet look weak on the world stage and here. His Finance Minister makes for another special edition on its own. The polls so far tell the truth about what we have running our great country into the dirt. Wasting over a half billion on his re-election when people are going under, hungry and into crisis. Sorry Harv, but I don’t give him any quarter because their bad has canceled out the good by far. Way to far. Time to try out a change this year.

  8. Ijustdontknowanymore says:

    I really wonder if Pollievire would lower or scrap any of Trudeaus carbon tax ripoffs and would he raise or try fiddling with our Old age Security or even Canada Pension benefits. Ithink the Harper clan was going to screw around with OAS like raising the age of qualifying. Thing is, I don’t remember Polliviere being confronted by hard journalism anywhere and asked any of these questions. What’s with that. I mean he should be asked until we get an answer. It’s fair play and keeping with a balanced approach. Maybe you could put that to him Harvey, because I’m just not in a trusting way with any of them. I lost that long ago because our politicians and system have somehow gotten to a point where lying, selfishness, and corrupt acts in government is somehow okay and normalized. And the media folks seem to accept everything as just another day. I watch them and it’s as though their absolutely dum to it all. Like bunch of zombies banging into each other with no clue of the surroundings.

    (Response: I have no doubt it won’t take long for Canadians to question/object to many actions/program cuts Poilievre would introduce if he does win the next election. But it sure looks like many, many voters just want change …and are willing to deal with whatever Poilievre unleashes afterwards. h.o)

  9. Earnest says:

    Don’t forget Canada Post undercutting local newspapers for flyer delivery, leaving a massive hole in their budgets. Then you add CBC being allowed to take ads online (Don’t know where the broadcasting act says they should effectively be allowed to run a newspaper in having a website) and the federal government is doing the MOST harm to journalism in Canada.

    (Response: As if it’s not bad enough to see Canada Post undercutting neighbourhood community newspapers which performed important local functions and survived on local ads and flyer deliveries, many distribution/circulation companies that hired the very poor and even homeless to deliver the papers also took a hit … while Ottawa softened any criticism by providing millions in grants directly to media corporations. h.o)

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