Tuesday, August 4, 2009

CBC Changes

The CBC announced the changes to their schedule for the fall. Once again they are tinkering with their presentation of the news. In some cases, they have been successful doing this as when they moved The National news broadcast to 10 pm back in 1982. It was part somewhat of a golden age for the CBC which saw the broadcast teamed with The Journal and regularly win its timeslot.

CBC's daily local news broadcast 24Hours started in 1970. Priot to that, Winnipeg's local news came once a week on a program called Eye-to-Eye. Garth Dawley was the original newsreader.

The local CBC news occupied its present 6 to 7 pm slot in 1977. It proved to be a very successful model for the local CBC and for decades, 24 Hours won its timeslot over local rivals.

From 1985 to 1990, 24Hours LateNight ran on the CBC. It was a more robust platform than the local late night news round up that had existed in the years before. Alas, it was abandoned due to continued changes when 24Hours Talkback expanded the supper news to 90 minutes from 1990-1992.

Local latenight news returned from 1994 to 2000 but it never has the same robustness of the 1980s.

In 2000, cutbacks at the CBC resulted in a national news program taking the 6 pm slot in Winnipeg. The program was renamed Canada Now and hosted by Ian Hanomansing. Local news was relegated to 6:30 pm. The change proved to be deadly for ratings and the national news experiment ended in 2007.

Since 2007, the CBC has returned to a one hour news format called CBC News: Winnipeg at Six. now hosted by former CTV News corespondents Janet Stewart and John Sauder. It has slowly restored ratings for the one time champion of local news but CTV News (CKY News) has been number 1 for many years now. In the last ratings period in spring in 2009, CBC local news vaulted back into second place.

From the Free Press:

CBC-TV was the biggest winner in this spring's version of the local-news ratings race, according to figures released this week by the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement.

CTV maintained its dominant position among local newscasts, despite a dip in ratings, while CBC leapfrogged Global to take over second spot among Winnipeg's supper-hour news programs.

CTV News drew an average audience of 126,700 during the spring BBM ratings period, compared to 165,800 in the same period last year. CBC News at Six increased its viewership dramatically, attracting an audience of 43,600 compared to 31,200 last spring.

It would be terrible if the CBC experiment that failed in the 1990s hurt the CBC's present climb back to better ratings. In part it looks like the news is being bookended with products picked up last year and this year.

The new schedule starting August 31 looks like this:

4:00 PM to 5:00 PM Ghost Whisperer
5:00 PM to 6:30 PM CBC News
6:30 PM to 7:00 PM Coronation Street
7:00 PM to 7:30 PM Wheel of Fortune
7:30 PM to 8:00 PM Jeopardy

There has been some criticism from some anonymous CBC sources.

The gist of the argument is that it is very hard to produce a 60 minute broadcast and doing 90 minutes is going to extremely difficult. It is also argued that the move to an earlier hour is to get bigger ratings for its British and American imports.

Time Program National Toronto Calgary

4:00 p.m. Fashion File 22,000 3,000 No rating

4:30 p.m. Rick Mercer 34,000 No rating No rating

5:00 p.m. The Simpsons 169,000 13,000 9,000

5:30 p.m. Wheel of Fortune 370,000 18,000 3,000

6:00 p.m. Local News 294,000 44,000 6,000

7:00 p.m. Coronation Street 557,000 173,000 11,000

7:30 p.m. Jeopardy! 683,000 161,000 9,000

It remains to be seen whether this move will hurt the CBC even more or whether this will turn local ratings around.

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