Shaw wants to reduce Global Montreal’s local programming requirement

Later this month, the CRTC will hold a hearing looking into the future of local and community television. Included in that review will be a look at how much local programming local television stations should produce, and what that should be.

The proceeding has attracted thousands of pages of comments, including from Canada’s major broadcasters.

Shaw Media, which owns Global TV, filed comments in which it unsurprisingly defended its model for local news, which involves local newscasts not only being produced and directed outside of local markets, but anchored there as well.

Multi-Market Content (“MMC”) is Global’s strategic, innovative response to these challenges. One of the principal benefits of MMC is to increase our local newsgathering capabilities. We have turned the traditional TV model on its head by creating a centralized production unit, moving away from building exclusively for broadcast times and instead focusing on sharing content as soon as it becomes available. The goal is to write, edit and produce a news story only once and share it on multiple platforms much sooner than in traditional model. We believe this model is a world first.

We have rolled out MMC in eight Global markets to date. Commencing September 2015, all late night and weekend newscasts in Halifax, New Brunswick, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon and Kelowna have been produced and anchored centrally in Toronto. Production has been shifted to a timeline-based model which allows for the insertion of live breaking news and sports updates when required.

Centralizing production of these newscasts has enabled the untethering of local news staff from the anchor desk, thus directing more resources to actual local stories as they unfold. We are also able to move MMC stories online and share them with other markets more quickly by ensuring that video news reports are packaged in edit suites. No longer are we waiting until the linear newscast ends before we publish individual items online. It is an innovative and necessary response that puts the viewer fully in charge of the content they watch.

Weekday dinner-hour newscasts in all Global markets continue to be produced and anchored locally using the traditional live linear model.

There are multiple benefits of this story-centric production model, including the following:

?  less talent turnover, resulting in more predictability for viewers;
?  maintaining the focus of local news rooms on generating local stories;
?  allowing key talent to maintain and strengthen ties with communities;
?  significant reduction in duplication of work;
?  allocating resources to provide for the maximum “feet on the street” to cover local stories;
?  sharing content sooner online and on social media; and
?  significant savings in production costs.

While the model is still in its early stages, it is already having a positive impact with respect to fostering more local stories in the Global television station markets.

In view of the foregoing, Shaw submits that a minor modification to the definition of local programming would be sufficient to reflect the evolution in locally relevant and reflective programming. Shaw proposes the following revised definition (change in bold):

Local programming is defined as programming produced by local stations with local personnel or programming produced by locally-based independent producers or programming that reflects the particular needs and interests of the market’s residents.

Shaw’s proposed change would mean that local programming would not need to be produced locally so long as it is meant particularly for a local audience.

Is Montreal a small market?

Another proposal affects the Montreal market in particular. The CRTC sets two standard quotas for local programming at English-language TV stations depending on market size: 14 hours a week for “metropolitan” markets (“those television markets in which the population with a knowledge of the official language of the station (i.e., English or French), as defined by Statistics Canada, is one million or more”), and 7 hours a week in smaller markets. French-language local programming requirements are set on a case-by-case basis.

Montreal is considered a metropolitan market in both English and French, since more than 2 million Montrealers know both official languages. But most of those are francophones — only 375,000 report speaking only English at home, a further 198,090 English and some third language. If you count English as mother tongue, Montreal’s 439,000 sits between Winnipeg and London, Ont., both of which are non-metropolitan markets.

Shaw argues that CKMI (which has transmitters in Montreal, Sherbrooke and Quebec City, the latter two have anglophone populations around 10,000 each) should be subject to the lower programming requirement:

Another example can be found in the Montreal market. Shaw’s local station, CKMI, must adhere to the 14-hour requirement for metropolitan markets. Shaw submits that Montreal should not count as a large market for the purposes of the foregoing local programming requirements. Just as the French Ottawa market is less than a million people, so too is the size of the Montreal population whose first language is English. While we appreciate there are more than one-million Montrealers with knowledge of English, this does not mean they consume daily media in English, particularly local news, for which even bilingual Anglophones are often drawn to media serving the majority French population due to the significant resources at its disposal.

Shaw submits that it would be more appropriate, from a fairness and symmetrical treatment perspective, to reduce the local programming requirement for CKMI Global Montreal from 14 to 7 hours.

To be clear, lowering the local programming requirement would not automatically mean Global would reduce its programming to meet that minimum. But considering how few people watch Global Montreal’s local newscasts late nights and weekends, it would be surprising if it didn’t, eventually.

In an appendix to its filing, Shaw highlighted the advantages of its new “MMC” model, mainly reassigning anchors to reporting jobs or having them work during the day instead of nights.

Here’s what it said about Montreal:

MMC has greatly enhanced our news coverage of important overnight stories. We now have a full-time reporter working every evening of the week. That means we are able to provide complete coverage of events happening in and around our community in the evening hours.

For example, reporter Billy Shields covered a memorial service marking the 1st anniversary of the murder of Longueuil resident Jenique Dalcourt. Other late-breaking stories that we have covered thanks to our additional reporter included news that the MLB expansion could include Montreal, and a vigil to protect The Tannery Village archeological site. For the first time ever, we covered Montreal’s “Mardi’s Cyclistes”, a Tuesday evening cycling event that attracts professional cyclists from around the world.

During the election campaign, we attended numerous community debates with local candidates, providing a local, grassroots feel to our election coverage.

Ads on community TV?

Since Shaw is also a cable provider with community channels, it also has proposals for community TV: It wants to reduce the quota on “access” programming (i.e. programs produced by people in the community rather than the station itself) to 30% from 50%, and allow advertising.

Expect these issues to be debated during the CRTC hearing, which begins Jan. 25 in Gatineau.

14 thoughts on “Shaw wants to reduce Global Montreal’s local programming requirement

  1. Not a Greater Montreal

    If its a locally licensed station, then it should run it’s operations out of that market. And, I wouldn’t brag about Global’s model. If you actually watch the CKMI local news, especially the week-end editions, one story or possibly two local stories off the top does not make a local newscast. And out of market (Toronto) anchors trying to pass off as local market (Montreal) people is very sad. In most cases they can’t even pronounce names properly, let alone even english terms that are regularly used in this market. If they want to cut down the number of local hours of production, then they can eliminate the out of town fake local newscasts. But, they cannot cutdown on the actual real local newscasts.

    This is what happens when the networks are allowed to own the majority (or even all) of their stations. The CRTC needs to implement the FCC’s Network & Affiliate policy. This is the only way we can insure that local markets have locally represented stations.

  2. Marc

    Global’s “local” weekend news is essentially a joke. It’s 2-4 local stories followed by national and international stories which are all repeated during the Global national news in the following half hour.

    Sad that they’re the only option on most Sundays now that BellMedia has given priority to the NFL over the one last remaining local program. It’s highly offensive on their part to suppress the local news for something they can throw onto TSN’s 5 channels.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      It’s highly offensive on their part to suppress the local news for something they can throw onto TSN’s 5 channels.

      You’re easily offended. We’re talking about one newscast a week for four months a year.

        1. Fagstein Post author

          Bell has so many sports channels they don’t need to scratch the local news.

          This is correct. They are not obligated to do this, but they choose to.

        2. Niki

          I agree completely with you, Marc. I have been saying this for the last couple of years! Bell has so many sports channels it’s beyond me why they have to hijack CTV with even more sports and pre-empt the local news. I don’t know what’s going on at Global but since they’re not even an option anymore, I feel especially sad for people like my aging mother who does not surf the net for news so therefore has no other option to turn to on Sunday nights. Very sad situation here in Montreal.


    Shaw submits that it would be more appropriate, from a fairness and symmetrical treatment perspective, to reduce the local programming requirement for CKMI Global Montreal from 14 to 7 hours.

    Seems to me that “symmetrical treatment” means getting it from all sides. I hope the CRTC will not allow a community channel and local tv provider to escape from its responsibilities for local programming. Who is getting it from all sides now?

    We now have a full-time reporter working every evening of the week. Bravo – A 100 % increase from 0.

  4. TV worker

    The broadcasters in Canada have wiggled and weaseled their way out of license requirements for years. The cycle is predictable. First they tried to buy a bunch of properties and promise the commission everything under the sun, then they go back a few years later, cry poverty and try to cut as much as possible. They try to use any bit of propaganda to make their CRTC presentation look dazzling. But it is all smoke and mirrors. Every TV station in Montreal should have a journalist on shift during the evening to cover local stories. You don’t deserve kudos for simply having that. It should be the bare minimum expectation.

  5. Radio Purist

    Their fake local newscasts are a joke. It would be one thing if they were honest about what they are doing, but they actually pretend that they are doing a live Montreal newscast. It is insulting to the few viewers that actually tune in.

  6. Mario D.

    To even think about it is sad… What makes me mad is that lack of authority coming from the CRTC towards broken promises. Initially you get a license because you have made a promise. You agree to follow certain rules and % pertaining to the market you are broadcasting in.
    It is obvious that this is a cost cutting measure aimed to make everything easier and cheaper with TO based production and product.
    Why the CRTC does not see this and put a quick end to these obvious business decisions that have nothing to do with what was supposed to be delivered is beyond me.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      What makes me mad is that lack of authority coming from the CRTC towards broken promises.

      It depends on whether it was a promise in the first place. If the CRTC considers a promise made in getting a licence or making an acquisition is a determining factor in their acceptance, they’ll usually impose it as a condition of licence. Then, if the licensee fails to meet that condition, they can take further action, up to and including revoking that licence in extreme cases.

      But that doesn’t stop the licensee from requesting the removal of such a condition when the licence comes up for renewal, or seeking a change in policy that would apply to everyone.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      I wonder how things will turn up now then Corus had aquired Global as well as Hgtv and Food from Shaw?

      Things probably won’t change much, particularly if the regulatory affairs people dealing with broadcast also move over to Corus.

  7. Michael Black

    And how much of this changes when/if Corus takes over Global?

    When Chris Reyes does the newscast it seems fine.

    When there are the two anchors, it fails. They know each other, but any banter isn’t about Montreal, but just seems to reinforce that they aren’t local. Having two anchors is about the interaction, but they can’t give that because they aren’t here. It’s just pretentious.



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