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.