Local Shaw TV stations were closed in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver on August 15, affecting 70 positions between the three cities in order to divert $10 million to Global News production. “The move is in response to the evolving news consumption habits of viewers”, said Shaw spokesperson Chethan Lakshman. Increasing online competition and other economic factors have made the production of local news and stories more difficult and a duplication of services.
At the same time, 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,” Lakshman said in an email.
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. The funds will be used to bolster local coverage and enable more reporting of grassroots, community-focused stories, said Global News spokesperson Rishma Govani.
It’s going to be about direct contact with community stakeholders and covering events and initiatives,” Govani said. “Which we already do, but we’re going to further develop that.”
Govani said she couldn’t say whether the additional funds would mean more reporting staff within the newsrooms. However, she said the company has plans to — among other things — establish local City Hall bureaus to beef up coverage of municipal issues and civic elections.
Among the expanded programming initiatives planned for Global News:
- Establishing Municipal Affairs Specialists and City Hall Bureaus that will cover municipal elections, expand civic election coverage on Globalnews.ca and offer continued coverage of pertinent local news,
- Assigning reporters to support and work directly with local groups and stakeholders on community events and initiatives,
- Expanding Global News Live, a growing online platform, to provide greater focus on grassroots digital content,
- Covering and supporting university, college and community sports in Western Canada,
- Taking newscasts out of the studio and into the community to better showcase stories and news of local neighbourhoods and suburban communities.
The $10 million boost to GlobalNews production by GlobalNews is set to begin on September 1.