CTV owes its viewers an apology

Dave Carroll, the guy who did the United Breaks Guitars video, produces a song about the evil cable companies paid for by CTV. It has aired in full (without explanation) at the end of local newscasts across the CTV network for two days in a row, as if reinforcing the idea that local stations have little say in local programming. You can download the video here.

At 11:30 a.m. Thursday, CTV held a 45-minute news conference in Toronto to make its case for “saving” local television by getting Canadians to support them and support their request (now with CBC and Global) before the CRTC. The complete video is on CTV’s website. It started off by using CKX-TV Brandon as an example, making me wonder if proving a point in this campaign wasn’t a big reason that CTV decided to pull the plug on the station so quickly. It also included the presentation of two new commercial spots (both of which are comically bad), and ended with the Dave Carroll video above.

Scanning through the TV channels, I found it covered live on only one. It wasn’t CPAC, of course, it was CTV News Channel, which cut away from Dan Matheson’s show for almost 25 minutes to air these talking heads live. Matheson cut it off just before noon only so he could finally throw to commercials. Before he did, there were three questions from the audience – all from television broadcasters with clear interests here (one was from CityTV, which isn’t part of the coalition only because its owner Rogers is more interested in protecting cable revenue than television revenue – the videographer asked if this is a political campaign by broadcasters, and got them to admit that yes, it was).

When CTV News Channel returned, there was no discussion of the topic, no response from cable and satellite companies, and no attempt was made to provide the other side of the debate (even though it’s being clearly stated). This despite the fact that the 25-minute presentation included facts that are clearly in dispute, included two commercials (which were not shot by a CTV cameraman pointing at a screen, but fed directly to air), and an admission from CTV itself that this was a political campaign.

It was only at 1 p.m., an hour and a half after the press conference began, that Dan Matheson brought in Phil Lind of Rogers and grilled him for five minutes on the cable company’s response. A 25-minute news conference with embedded advertising presented without question versus a five-minute interview with a skeptical news anchor is apparently considered balanced to CTV.

Just after noon on CFCF’s local newscast, a brief about the news conference was presented by anchor Todd van der Heyden. Again, CTV’s statements were presented without question, no attempt was made to present the other side of the debate, and viewers were encouraged to visit CTV’s Local TV Matters website as if it was some reliable source for more information instead of a propaganda campaign by the corporate office.

CTV started by airing one-sided ads on its networks, then holding “open houses” and leveraging local TV personalities to amass large crowds to pretend there’s some huge support for their political cause. They aired one-sided reports from local journalists scaring people into supporting them. Now, it seems, they’re presenting a news conference (at which nothing new was said) as if it’s breaking news.

CTV is continuing to abuse the public trust, and using its power over journalists it employs to get them to ignore journalistic ethics and bias themselves in favour of their employer.

It doesn’t matter whether you agree with CTV’s campaign, or with fee for carriage, or that local TV is in trouble, or that cable and satellite companies are making too much money. CTV News has a duty to present a fair picture to its viewers, and it is intentionally failing to do so.

This is what you want us to save?

UPDATE: Bell and Rogers respond with a press release saying they give plenty of money to Canadian television.

12 thoughts on “CTV owes its viewers an apology

  1. TV Dude

    So if you are a reporter/anchor at channel 12 and you refuse to go along with this charade, do you get axed? Certainly there are some intelligent people there who can see this for what it is. I can’t remember anything so shameful ever on Canadian newscasts than what CTV has been doing with the “Save local TV” farce. By doing this they are losing their credibility as journalists.

    Don’t expect them to apologize. They don’t think much of their audience. It’s just so pathetic.

  2. Marc

    We saw that music video last night right after Pulse CTV News at 6 and wondered what the hell it was. Since the news was over, I just turned off the TV about 40 seconds into it and proceeded to wash the dishes.

  3. Horonymous

    The less Dan Matheson the better. Never been impressed with his announcing and even less of his skill as an interviewer. No much there when he is off prompter.

    No surprise on CTV’s objective spin on things.

  4. MM

    CFCF-TV 12 (oops!) I mean CTV Montreal as dictated by HQ in Toronto ran that stupid music video again at the end of tonights local news. It ate about 5 minutes into the local newscast. I guess that must he the cable companies fault that we got 5 minutes less of local news, local jobs.

  5. Disgruntled Viewer

    I watched that press conference in its entirety (as the CTV-owned CP24 showed every second of it) and was utterly disgusted by the self-serving spin from these hacks. And to load up soft-ball questions at the beginning from TV reporters whose stations were sitting on the dias was ridiculous. The lack of response time for the other side was also unacceptable for “news” organizations, as these channels are trying to pass themselves off to be.

    This whole campaign is beyond disingenuous. The broadcasters accuse cable of ‘stealing’ their programming and yet fail to acknowledge that the cable and satellite companies are MANDATED BY LAW to carry those channels. They do not have a choice in the matter. They also dismiss the idea of cutting down on the hundreds of millions of dollars they pour into American programming spends in order to pump more money into their domestic operations, preferring instead to whine to the CRTC for more money.

    It’s also sickening that they present the loss of local TV as ‘devastating’ to a community, all the while ignoring the fact that people can get their local news in a number of other ways – by radio, print and online. No one’s life is going to end because they don’t have a CTV affiliate in their town. Shoot, half the ‘local’ programming is already generated out of major media centres as it is!

    I’m no fan of cable and their gouging ways but the fact remains that cable/satellite is a delivery mechanism (just like an antenna is) and that’s what we pay for. That the Local TV Matters campaign is trying to make it out to be something else is simply beyond the pale. And despite what they say the money the broadcasters want to raise is not even specifically for the production of local programming – the CRTC has already mandated that cable and satellite co’s contribute to a local TV production fund for small markets (look closely at your cable bill and you’ll see the monthly charge for it)!

    This cash crunch they find themselves in has more to do with bad company management and overspending on acquiring other media properties (in CTV’s case the CHUM network and in Global’s case Alliance/Atlantis) at a time when they should have known better. I would note that neither Ivan Fecan nor any Asper has offered to forego their massive salaries to save their companies. They’d rather screw the little guy instead.

  6. Steve Champlain

    The best way for BDU’s to get back at CTV and others would be to run ads overtop of their local programming, as they can control what goes out! It may be illegal, but if you have to fight fire with fire… this is the best way!

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  8. LC

    “Ask not what you can do for your government but rather what can your goverment do for you” LC
    The government is demanding too much from its citizens! Ever since it started charging for service charges! Why do you think we pay taxes ? Income tax, property taxes & the big LIE the gst! This is not to mentioned ALL the other prexisting taxes! Time has come for people to realize and do something about this!
    A few years back I became aware of a troubling fact while working for the city of ottawa. I learned that the federal government was stealing water from the city of ottawa, in the order of millions of dollars. It never appeared in the newspapers since it was settled out of court! This goes to what extent the government has gone corrupted and at all levels. The buck is just passed from one hand to the other( one party in power to the other). This is factual ! Astounding?
    Let us not forget that a government that operates in a surplus implies that it is profiting from its citizens! This is the major reason come at the end of each fiscal year the government is in a frenzy to spend all of its budget in order to justify replenishing itself. But in the meanwhile it finds ways to find new taxes, increase prexisting ones & have the audacity to add service charges and then slap you with the BIG LIE the gst. When are people going to realize that time has come for ACTION!
    While the 2 most important aspects of society
    (Education & Medicare) are being are being overshadowed by government fallacies or better known as PROPAGANDA such narcotics and the war overseas!
    pay the tv tax, I THINK NOT!

  9. Joseph R. Bertrand

    I really have to wonder how any of the broadcasters and/or networks feel they can justify any sort of increase for the “joke” called services. Customers using cable, satellite, telephone, or any other form of signal to get programs delivered to a home for so called entertainment are either outright thieves and liars or are totally dilusional. they have one and all been ripping the public off since the very inception of the idiot box. When has the viewer ever had any real input into programing? NEVER!…DESPITE THE CRTC’S ADS ABOUT ENCOURAGING THE PUBLIC TO VOICE THEIR COLLECTIVE OR INDIVIDUAL OPINIONS IN REFERENCE TO WHAT PROGRAMS ARE BEING AIRED. Try telling the broadcasters or the cable and satellite companies that your having problems with reception and all one ever hears is basically “SO WHAT”…NOTHING IS PERFECT…AND NO…WE DO NOT REFUND THE CHARGES FOR OFF AIR TIMES SIMPLY BECAUSE WE DON’T HAVE TO. Now the big noise is about saving “local TV stations” with a $10.00 tax. As it happens, where I live has no local TV station. The nearest Local TV station to me would have to be either Vancouver or Kelowna and to be quite honest, my interest in the goings on on either of those communities is extremely limited and certainly not anything I want to pay for. So why should I pay a tax for something I do not have access to namely “local TV”. As to CTV or Global or the National News broadcasts, I figure I hear maybe 3 to 4 minutes of national news and thew remainder of the broadcast such as it is can only be described as “inter-national” news and even that segment is pretty well uninformative. The “national news” is actually repeated during the “local news segment” on both CTV & Global to the tune of about 40%. I now figure that any “real news” on either segment amounts to approximately 12 minutes combined once the commercials are factored in. So what the hell am I paying for monthly? And now they want me to pay another $120.00 a year for the same crap. I don’t think so. If this tax is approved, I intend the withhold $10.00 from the statement each month, and they can whistle for it! Hell I already pay ridiculous subsidies for phone services, power services, fuel taxes, and the beat goes on. One view I hold is that all levels of governments benefit far more from broadcasting than the public ever will, so perhaps the governments should reconsider where they waste tax dollars now and instead of sending our tax dollars abroad by the ship load and spreading their selected propaganda across this nation through the various mediums, they should pick up the tab on this one and leave the struggling citizens of this country alone…just this once.
    J.R. Bertrand

  10. Steve Hatton

    “It started off by using CKX-TV Brandon as an example, making me wonder if proving a point in this campaign wasn’t a big reason that CTV decided to pull the plug on the station so quickly.”

    The latest Local TV Matters commercial (or at least I assume it’s the latest as I’ve never seen it before) has a university professor from Brandon talking about the loss of CKX-TV, as an example of why we should support local TV. Which seems to imply that your theory was right all along.

    BTW: Why are these commercials still on the air in any case? In the beginning their raison-d’etre was to convince viewers to sign a petition before the CRTC hearings began. Now the hearings have begun and yet the commercials are still there.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      Their campaign is now to keep pressuring the CRTC until a ruling is reached, and if that ruling isn’t in their favour, to pressure the House of Commons and the government to overrule the CRTC until the broadcasters get their money. If that doesn’t work, I think they’re coming after grandma.


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