Correction: An earlier version of this post said the Sunday night newscast will continue from 10:55 to 11:05pm. While it stays 10 minutes long, it will actually be 11 to 11:10pm, starting next Sunday.
This weekend was the start of CBC television's fall season, but its biggest effects will be felt starting today, as talk show George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight moves to 7pm and the late local newscasts expand from 10 minutes to half an hour.
Nancy Wood, who took over anchoring the late local news this spring, only to learn shortly thereafter that her on-air time would be tripled, tells me she's excited but anxious about the debut.
I was curious about what kind of changes we could expect with this new newscast. Wood told evening anchor Debra Arbec that they would have two reporters working evening shifts to file reports between the two newscasts.
The biggest change one would expect for the expansion of a late newscast would be in sports coverage. Aviva Herman of CBC Montreal communications tells me there won't be a specific sportscaster or sports reporter for late night, at least for now, but "Nancy will be reading sports highlights from a local and national perspective."
Previously, the late local anchor would provide a voice-over recap of games involving Montreal teams, but there wasn't a larger sports highlight package. This led to strange situations like the "CBCSports.ca update" during the NHL playoffs that spoke about upcoming games without saying what happened that night.
We'll see what this new format has in store.
The biggest change, though, will be in timing. The previous 10-minute newscast was sandwiched between The National and George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight, running from 10:55 to 11:05pm. This meant anyone watching something other than The National at 10pm would miss the first half of the newscast, and anyone wanting to watch something different at 11 would either miss the first five minutes of that show or cut out halfway through their local news.
Now, with the start at 11pm and running a full half-hour, it fits schedules better. It also goes head on against Global Montreal's low-rated late local newscast and the high-rated CTV National News. Those wanting to be in bed by 11:30 and preferring local to national and international news might decide check out CBC.
How it went
The late newscast is still very focused on local news, since it follows The National. No filling of time with packaged reports from other cities, at least not for now.
Other features taking up all that extra time:
- Three weather segments, which have different graphics but seem to present the same information. On the first show, weather segments with Frank Cavallaro lasted 3:51 total.
- The CBCSports.ca Update is now done as a national package of a minute and a half, rather than voiced by the local anchor. Local sports news (including Canadiens/Alouettes/Impact highlights) are still presented separately.
- There's a next-day news look-ahead, teasing the stories that will make news the next day. It includes both a local and national component.
People like me who really disliked the awkward anchor throws to George Stroumboulopoulos promos in the middle of the newscast will be relieved that they're no longer doing it that way. The promos still exist (even though they're now teasing a rebroadcast of a show from earlier in the night), in the middle of the newscast as a self-contained promo ad, and at the end where the anchor says to stay tuned for Strombo.
Though it's an improvement, I remain very uncomfortable with newscasts being used like this for advertising, even if it's self-promotion.
Technical growing pains
Minor and moderate technical problems continue to plague the late newscast. It would be easy to dismiss this as the kind of mistakes that happen when you're doing something new, but it happens too often, to the point where I'm now starting to expect such errors at 11pm.
The first show saw the virtual set disappear for a few seconds, as you see above, removing any illusion that there's a futuristic blue set that in no way resembles their evening news set. (On Day 2, they pulled away the green screen and went with the real control-room background you see on weekends or in some reporter debriefs. Wood says a new backdrop should be coming in a week or two.)
The larger mistake happened when the first packaged report was played again in place of the second, forcing reporter Alison Northcott to ad-lib.
The second show went smoother. The worst thing I saw, besides some timing issues, was a graphic with a typo ("Tobacco trial" became "Tobacco trail")
CBC News: Montreal at 11 airs weeknights from 11 to 11:30pm. The late Sunday newscast retains its 10-minute format
from 10:55 to 11:05pm, but starting at 11pm instead of 10:55pm.