On April 24, Shaw announced its plans to close its Community TV stations in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver effective August 15, 2017. The resources from those stations will now be redirected to Global News, to increase community news gathering. The decision is expected to affect 70 people at all three locations, but they say this will also help reduce duplication of their coverage.
Shaw spokesperson Chethan Lakshman noted that:
Increasing online competition and other economic factors have made the production of local news and stories more difficult, he said, while the ability of Canadians living in larger cities to access many more media sources has made the community channel less relevant in metropolitan areas. For Shaw TV in Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton, this shift in viewer preferences has resulted in a 75 per cent average decline in viewership over the past six years.
Their spokesperson couldn’t say whether the additional funds would mean more reporting staff within Global Calgary or Edmonton’s newsroom. However, she said the company has plans to — among other things — establish a local City Hall bureau to beef up coverage of municipal issues and civic elections.
Some are also attributing this to changes made by the Canada Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), providing Canadians with access and choice to more news sources.
Last year, the CRTC’s review of local and community TV gave television providers like Shaw the flexibility to shift their required contribution to local programming in large markets from community channels to local news stations. As a result, Global News — owned by media company Corus Entertainment, which acquired Shaw’s portfolio of conventional and specialty television stations in 2016 — will receive $10 million annually in funds redirected from the Shaw TV operations.
In a statement, Senior Vice President of Shaw Communications, Katherine Emberly, says:
Shaw has a long-standing reputation in recognizing the importance of local news and we hope that today’s move signals our continued dedication to preserving community coverage.
Shaw TV stations will continue to operate in more than 180 markets, including Medicine Hat, Red Deer and Lethbridge.