CHEK it out

Congratulations to the folks at Victoria’s CHEK-TV, who have won the first J-Source Journalism Integrity Award for buying their own station and preventing it from being shut down.

Like CHCH in Hamilton (another station that used to form part of Canwest’s E! secondary network), CHEK has abandoned the conventional television model used by the big networks – spending millions on hot primetime U.S. programming and using part of the profits to subsidize a minimum amount of local newscasts. Instead, they’re doing the opposite, expanding local news and going for cheaper programming in primetime.

The rest of the Canadian television industry is keeping a close eye on these stations. If the business model turns out to be successful, it will be quickly replicated across the country, much to the delight of unions and journalists. If it fails (which is more likely), it won’t be repeated again and the television news death spiral will only continue to worsen.

But hey, no pressure.

UPDATE (Feb. 6): J-Source has an interview with CHEK news director Rob Germain.

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