Update: See my review of the show after a month here.
“If we do a good job, people will watch, and the show will last forever.”
That’s what Karen Macdonald, Global Montreal’s station manager, said during an interview on the first episode of Global Montreal Morning News, that aired on Jan. 28. She commented on the growing pains the show was experiencing, and its technical challenges. She mentioned “a few occasions when we’ve been a little bit slow to come back from commercial, but that’s the only problem we’ve had this morning.”
It gives the impression of a show that is largely successful but has the usual small wrinkles to iron out.
Unfortunately, the technical problems with Global Montreal Morning News are far bigger than mere wrinkles. In the eight episodes that have aired so far as I write this, there have been multiple instances of nothing happening for more than 30 seconds, one case where the show ended a full two minutes early and just showed contact information and a cityscape for that time, and countless examples of awkward pauses, mistimed cues, wrong audio, over/underexposure, drifting cameras, wrong graphics, incomplete graphics, and just about every other technical problem you can imagine.
And the frequency and severity of these technical problems isn’t going down.
There are two possible causes of this problem: too few people in the control room, or the people who are there aren’t sufficiently trained. There’s a strong argument for the second, since the people hired are all new to the software being used (and have limited control-room experience). But my suspicion is that the former is the real cause, and if so no amount of experience will fix it.
Global has sung the praises of Mosart, the automated control room technology that is allowing them to put this show on the air with only three people at the controls (a producer and two directors). But the lack of specialized functions like an audio technician or a graphics director or a robotic camera operator is immensely apparent. The technical staff are overloaded with work and it’s clear they’re desperately trying to catch up to live TV.
The technical problems are making the show look bad, and in particular the on-air staff, who have to deal with visuals that don’t appear or are incorrect, cues that never come through or awkward delays between the time they stop talking and the beginning of a commercial break, story package or cut to another camera.
I’d compile a best-of package, but (a) 30 seconds of black screen isn’t very interesting visually, (b) It’s too depressing, and (c) I’m holding out hope that they’ll eventually improve to the point where the show is watchable.
Instead, I’ll leave you with this example, taken from an episode of the second week of the show, to give you an idea what goes on the air on a regular basis:
As its name implies, Morning News has a focus on the news. People used to Canada AM will recognize the basic structure, even if the difference in technical quality is obvious.
Each half-hour block starts with a mini newscast read by Camille Ross. They seem to have settled on having a packaged local report from the previous night’s newscast and three or four briefs read by the anchor over visuals or with a short sound clip. Weather and traffic updates come together about every 10 minutes (the schedule isn’t at all strict), and that eats up the first half of the half-hour pretty well.
The second half of the half-hour has the feature segments. For the first half of the show, it’s more newsy, with national/international news (also including one packaged report) and Richard Dagenais doing a second newscast-like segment with entertainment or more lighthearted news.
For the second half of the show, the end of the half-hour has an interview with a guest or columnist, done standing up at a table (though sometimes sitting down too). They’re billed as being at 10 and 40 minutes after the hour, though 15 and 45 are probably more accurate. The three-hour show will have three or four of these interviews.
The show is a bit too repetitive for my taste, even though it’s expected that few people are going to tune in for the whole three hours. The local news stories are always the same ones and the entertainment stories are usually the same. Something similar to what CBC Montreal does during its evening newscast, in which it presents the same stories differently (a package reduced to a brief the second time it’s presented, for example) might work better here. Or even just picking a different local news story or brief. You’re not going to get to everything in a five-minute newscast, so why not vary the selection a bit?
An information bar appears at the bottom of the screen through almost all of the show. It’s pretty simple, with the Global Montreal logo and the time on the right side (Richard Dagenais also says the time out loud every time he starts speaking), the Morning News logo on the left, and local news headlines in rotation at the bottom. In the centre of this box is a multipurpose space, which gives short-term and three-day weather forecasts for Montreal, Laval, Quebec, Trois-Rivières and Sherbrooke, as well as scores from the previous night’s NHL games. (They also had the Super Bowl score the next morning, so supposedly other sports scores would appear here as well.) These graphics disappear (through an animation) and are replaced with text boxes when the control room calls for information to appear on the screen, such as identifying a person speaking or a location.
Other than the cueing of these information slides, everything is automated, so it’s nice and smooth. But it’s already happened a handful of times that the wrong identifying text box has been cued and then quickly made to disappear.
The background in the virtual newsroom set is a sunrise cityscape, which is nice-looking and succeeds in making it look at least a bit different from the evening newscast. But it leads to images like this that make it clear how it’s not real:
Jessica Laventure has experience as a weather presenter, so barring technical problems (like occasionally not being able to hear the hosts) she delivers it well. Reports vary, with daily forecasts, five-day forecasts and national forecasts (billed as “travel forecasts” for the benefit of all those viewers planning trips to Saskatoon in February).
The original plan was to have Laventure report the weather from a West Island breakfast restaurant. By the end of the first week it looked like they had found a place, but on the second week she was back downtown, giving weather updates from Ste. Catherine Street.
One of the problems with the live remote is that because it’s not HD-compatible, the video is of poor quality. Compared to the crisp HD of the studio, it looks like Laventure is reporting via VHS tape from the 80s, complete with horizontal line noise. (The live hits from Ste. Catherine don’t have this problem because video is fed upstairs through a hard-wired HD-compatible line.)
Looking past the technical issues, the segments aren’t bad, and Laventure gives the show an authentic energy.
Particular praise should go to the crew working with her, cameraman Yannick Gadbois and truck technician Sylvain Trudeau. During the first week, the two of them didn’t hesitate to do silly things in front of the camera just for fun.
One live shot used as a bumper before the local headlines featured the three of them engaging in a snowball fight. It’s the kind of thing I wouldn’t expect to see normally, and much more entertaining than a cityscape or live traffic shot.
Gadbois in particular gives the cameraman a personality, and it’s enjoyable to watch on television.
Traffic and weather updates are for the most part presented together. At first, Laventure would follow up her forecasts by reading traffic information off her iPhone that was provided to her by 92.5 The Beat. On the second week, they began having The Beat’s traffic announcer herself deliver the report on the air. The advantage to doing it this way is that it is delivered much faster and more professionally. But it’s also delivered by someone we don’t see.
On screen during these traffic reports, we see automatically-generated maps of various parts of the city with arrows on the highways and major streets indicating how fast they’re moving. Unfortunately, the map usually stays stuck on Laval and doesn’t switch to the downtown map by the time the report is finished.
Ross and Dagenais (and Laventure) are still getting to know each other. That’s not so much a bad thing for a new show. We’re getting to know them too. Some of the chemistry between them might seem a little forced or even fake, and their little running gags a bit overused (yeah, we get it, Richard uses hand cream). But it’s not particularly annoying. Certainly not compared to all the technical problems they’ve had to deal with that have been making them look bad.
(Richard Dagenais’s former job of News Final anchor has been posted, by the way.)
There’s no official list yet UPDATE: They’ve posted a list of their regular contributors:
- Leah Lipkowitz, on home decor (website, Twitter)
- Erica Diamond, on parenthood (website, Twitter)
- Micaela Whitworth, on fitness (website, Twitter)
- Na’eem Adam, on the local food scene (Twitter)
- Jay Walker, on entertainment (blog, Twitter)
- Patricia Gajo, on fashion (Facebook, Twitter)
- Pearle Nerenberg, on nutrition (website, LinkedIn)
The show also has a monthly book club.
Global said Montreal is pioneering a new system with its automated control room. Shaw Media should acknowledge that it’s understaffed and hire another person (a dedicated audio technician would be my suggestion). Global Montreal has only until August to build an audience before City launches Breakfast Television here. If it expects to engage in any serious competition with that show, it needs to act now.
Frankly, it needs to act a month ago, but we’re beyond that. Despite pleas from the people involved to give it a chance, there’s only one chance to make a first impression with viewers. The first week of the show has given them an idea of what to expect. And if Global doesn’t act now to fix it, they’ll quickly turn back to Canada AM and leave Global’s Morning News stuck with the label that I’ve been hearing online from people who have seen it: “train wreck.”
Further reading: Dagenais offers his own, more sympathetic review of the first week, explaining that because everything in the system is coded, unexpected changes throw everything out of whack.
It’s got problems, but what do you expect! They have to fill three hours with limited resources.
I think it would be better if they tried to work within the limited resources.
They should do three, thirty minute news shows. 6am, 7am, and 8am.
That way they cover what they need to do. Viewers will get the info they need before they head out the door in the morning. The stretching and filling of time stops. And the crew can re-adjust between each newscast. Right now is almost three hours of filler. Do you want to sit through that?
They can place Simpsons, and Family Guy reruns between the newscast for the kids.
There is a lot wrong with that sentence. These days the Simpsons caters to fans who’ve been watching the show for a very long time, and those who were die-hards during the glory days of the 90s. It followed its old fans. Newcomers would have a hard time relating.
Have you ever watched Family Guy? No one under 16 should be watching the show.
That might not be a bad idea, but Shaw promised the CRTC 10 hours of new programming in each market, and this would only create 7.5. And I’m not sure if such a format would work very well in keeping viewers interested.
I just YouTubed up some This Morning Live from 7-8 years ago, just to put it back fresh in my mind. Holy Moly. Compared to this, TML looks like Good Morning America.
Yes, act now is key here. If not, then Breakfast Television will mop the floor with Global.
It’s the only morning “chat show” I’ve ever seen without sponsored beverage cups displayed prominently on the desk. It wouldn’t have been that hard to swing a deal with Tim Horton’s or Second Cup, or a national brand like Folger’s, etc.
I know Dickie Dee doesn’t drink coffee, but I’ve also seen juice company sponsorships, like Tropicana, in the form of logo glasses, pitchers, cartons, etc. featured around the set.
Seems like a missed opportunity to generate some revenue for Global and get some free coffee for the cast and crew. I’m sure gallons of the stuff are being consumed by the staff each morning.
This show understaffed and could use an extra person or two to ensure things run smoothly, but that’s probably not going to happen which is too bad as Global has proven in other markets that they can put on a excellent morning show. Even the Global Maritimes morning program seems to be significantly better and that station suffers from similar ratings woes.
Watching the show. Why would Global run a promo for the morning show DURING the morning show? (@6:27 a.m.)
It’s the one where they’re all dancing. And wouldn’t the VO guy KNOW who they are? Script doesn’t make much sense…
Where’s that darn Tracy McKee?? She is missed.
desapointment the show should have a few week of dry run off air first!!! verry bad
It’s awful. Someone please remind Richard he’s not on radio any more, stop trying so hard to be cool & funny… he’s no Letterman or Lauer, loose the goofy gestures… At least Camile maintains some class. Sorry someone had to say it.
Finally someone said it!! Richard was annoying from the first second! First show: Fine sing a bit, but it was 15 secs too long!!! He is trying too hard and it comes off extremely fake and annoying. After watching since day one, Global should really think about doing some SWITCHEROO… Richard should do weather and be on location; his goofy “antics” would work great here. Jessica should really be in studio on air to do segments of all nature; she looks good on camera. Camille is ok for me…she’s a good anchor but not so much as host; a bit boring but no charisma, unlike Jessica. Camille seems to be still in her shell. I say Jessica and x male host (how about Peter Anthony Holder with Jessica) and Camille stays on to do the news!! Global Montreal…please but Richard on the field like he did years ago;If your ratings depend on it!!!
I don’t see why you have to apologize..You are right in what you are saying and I am glad you said it. I tried watching it this week and it’s just plain BAD…and yes someone has to tell Richard that he is not on radio…the way he tells us what time it is sounds like he is trying to be one of those deep voiced AM radio announcers from decades ago…and why does he have to tell us the time every couple of minutes? It is so annoying. I am sure he is a great guy and a great broadcaster but to me it seems like he is trying way too hard. He needs to loosen up and just be himself. And I agree with you that Camille maintains some class but I cannot help but feel very sorry for her. To me I think there is no chemistry at all between her and Richard and this whole show is just one big train wreck. Jessica seems uncomfortable in her role as well…I think they should bring her in the studio to do weather from there instead of outside where the picture is bad and most of the time she cannot even hear them in the studio. Hopefully it’s all uphill from here because I cannot see how this can get any worse, but then again I cannot see how it can get any better.
WELL, why am I not surprised..The first clip above I kinda like..I don’t mind Richard goofing around a bit..this is the morning gig. not Prime time suuper show..So loosen up folks..
But after looking at the other clips, I felt so bad for Richard and Camille for the technical shortcomings, but let’s face it, this will happen when you try run a major media outlet and any of its programing on a shoestring budget and I certainly agree that they need all of the above named, audio tech, camera operator,etc..
So spend some money Shaw Communications. I am also concerned about the columnists entioned above or are they just on trial..But should really get people who are actual media people and not because they have some online blog site..
But Steve, you’re definitely right, if they don’t get their act together then Rogers’ City Breakfast will cream them and now that they’re seeing this, you know what they’re thinking..They will not go cheap, they will have reporters and columnists from the street so to speak who are on the ground with their fields, and from what I read in recent articles about Rogers, and the Bob Babinski appointment and his views on the show, well you know Global does have a lot of work to do.
I do like the suggestion up above about three 30-minute news packages at 6 ,7, and 8..the other half hours of those segments could be the special features, columnists, or that would be a good time to interview someone who accomplished something in the community, or interview some celebrity in town, obviously recorded the day/night before…these segments would be the light segments. Happy Viewing.
I believe all the other Global stations have switched to automation for all their shows, including Global National. Yes there are glaring mistakes on their shows too after Mosart was implemented, but the people left who are running the ship are still experienced to know what to do in case of a meltdown. Procedures and plans are in place, whether it’s Global BC’s news, or Global Maritimes.
As for Global Montreal? It’s a new show, with mostly new on air and technical staff, with a new production system. A perfect storm of bloopers and dead air. Not to mention that one of the technical staff was previously in radio, so I’m not sure how steep the live TV learning curve is for him. They have been rehearsing this for weeks, but real life situations ie) breaking news, bad guests, equipment breakdowns don’t occur in rehearsal.
So yes in the first few months it’s going to look like a complete wreck. But I believe they will get it together by the time BT comes in. They have to.
To be clear, the problem isn’t Mosart per se, even though it has a steep learning curve for people with limited control-room experience. The problem appears to be that too much of it is automated, and there aren’t enough humans behind the controls to deal with the things that can’t be done automatically because it’s live TV.
I’ll reserve final judgment on the matter, though, until they have a chance to settle in. If the problems disappear a month from now, we’ll know the answer.
As far as I know not one of these things has actually happened so far on the show. The delays aren’t based on unforeseen events, but the simple switches of cameras, graphics and audio levels that usually happen in television.
Why do they “have to”? What is the consequence if they don’t? Shaw has committed to the show for five years, regardless of ratings. And I think there’s a limit to how “together” they can get against a show that will have three times the staff.
Exactly my point, unless they hire more technical people and I feel strongly about this, but columnists and/or reporters hired by and working for Global that specialize in those respective fields….e.g. CTV’s Christine Long, all she does is cover the entertainment beat..she is not beholden to any blog site or her own website..
If Shaw doesn’t ante up the cash, it will be a long 5 years..and Camille Ross will have wished she stayed as a reporter for Montreal’s NO.1 newscast and program..
Any chance that City’s Breakfast Television can launch sooner..we anglo Montealers deserve better local morning TV…Doesn’t shaw get it..machines can’t think..
If quality is what you’re after, why rush? Montreal has been without a local morning show for five years. It can wait a few more months.
Rogers posted the jobs for the new morning show only yesterday. Both technical and on-screen positions are open. No mention of how many jobs they’re looking to fill, but the ad said it’s the full staff being hired.
Free advice for Karen McDonald and Co. at Global; Strive to be flawless in the flow of your daily brodcast. Eliminate all “shtick” immediately. Get back to the basics of informing and entertaining viewers. Grow some credibility first and foremost. Make that your mission.
Watching Dagenais sign on with a Bugs Bunny bit after showing the body of a 19 yr old dead girl lying on pavement was very cringe worthy for everyone watching. It was in poor taste and devoid of judgment. I was embarrassed for him.
It’s easy to play armchair PD on this mess… A sure sign you’re in trouble is when just listening to a show is easier to digest then watching it. Maybe Dick will get this… More Supertramp, less Lady Gaga. That should clue him in. Shaw should also concentrate on hiring component staff instead of running promos for “paid interns”. Gave me a good chuckle… I’m sure the “other guys” are getting a good laugh too.
No one will say anything about Richard dagenais’ issues with time? All he seems to be doing is what time it is…… Every couple of minutes or every time before he has to say something! And the dead air! Come on…..big disappointment!
It’s mentioned in the post. I could see the idea behind it: people busy getting ready to start the day and could use an audio reminder of the time if they’re not actually watching the TV. But for the rest, it’s a bit redundant, not to mention far too frequent.
Because of this blog post, I watched it for the first time since the first episode today. I turned it on after 8am about. The number of technical errors was MUCH worse than even the first episode. Some of the highlights over a less than hour (which is far from all the errors I noticed):
1) Returning from a break, 10 seconds of black, then color bars for 5 seconds. Then they returned and Camille was chewing and saying “hmmmm” over B-roll. They switched to Richard who started talking.
2) Another break, and 30 seconds of black this time before anything appeared. They go to a shot of the Jessica Laventure and the nutritionist eating muffins she made outside. Then Camille Ross was heard whispering: “They don’t even know.” Richard: “No, they know”.
3) After news headlines, they go back to weather, who’s microphone was not on when she starts talking. Her microphone is turned on, but then Camilla Ross was heard saying: “Rob, just a reminder not to talk to me while i am talking.”
4) After the last Interview ended near 8:50 and was tossed to break, no ads appear, only black. Then you hear talking (from Toronto?): “Is it going — swore in as premier? — then after this, I throw it to what?” “Testing 1-2” “One of those hoopsters is Global’s own Anthony Farnell…” Then an advertisement finally appears. Ad ends, and then the end of Global’s Toronto morning show appears, who throws to a break. So more black. But then, Richard and Camille finally appear (but of course their microphones aren’t on).
But the show ended appropiately:
Camille: “We are about to embark on a fun third week.” Richard: “We’ll see you tomorrow — take it easy Montreal”
Thinking they are off the air: Camille: “That was fun.” Richard: “(?) was fun, but uh…”
Has it been this bad everyday?
I like having Global Montreal back in town! The news is not always a joke and Camille is good at her job but Richard keeps acting like a clown!
Don’t screw this up, we want to see what’s going on live in Montreal, news, traffic and weather – not second-hand like on Canada AM!
Focus and provide us with the news!
It seems like a lot of the issues concern the microphones. Why not let the talent just turn their own mics on and off from their body packs or install simple on/off/mute buttons under the desk? Keep the mics hot in the control room all the time, and when Dickie or Camille need to be live they switch their own mics on. Then when their segment is over, they switch them of. Like in radio.
That might be difficult to accomplish technically, especially if you want to avoid hearing switches or constantly seeing them turning on and off their microphones. Plus there are plenty of other sources of audio, from the traffic updates to sound on tape. And would they adjust their own levels too?
Levels could still be ridden from MC. It’s not nearly as difficult as it might seem to retro-fit this. The talent turn the mics on and off once they’re off camera. For instance, after the ice wine interview Dickie did last week, once the camera went back to Camille we heard Richard say to his guest “thanks very much, that was great.” If he had control over his own mic, he could have simply turned it off once the camera went back to the main set. It become second nature after a day or so.
Good thing Richard doesn’t use foul language, or we might have heard “that was ‘effin’ great.”
Digital switches are silent. Automatic gain control takes care of most of the issues.
Just a suggestion if mic cues are not tight enough on the Mosart system.
They should also install a bright red light, separate from the “On Air” light, that indicates when ANY mic on set is live. That way the studio knows audio is going out and to shut up.
And who would control the guest’s mic? I suppose it could work, but I don’t know if it would be that much more efficient or reduce the number of errors.
By the way, I heard that announcers from The Beat were going to be doing “celebrity weather” spots on CTV at 6 p.m., like what PK Subban did a few months ago. Isn’t Global the media partner of The Beat? I can’t imagine the folks running the Global morning show will be too happy about this.
The two do partner on things often, but it’s not exclusive. I think the partnership is partly because The Beat is the only commercial radio station in the market that isn’t owned by Bell or in the process of being purchased by it.
As much as Global might not be happy with a Beat/CTV partnership, Astral might not be too thrilled either. But I don’t think either side takes it that seriously. It’s not like we’re dealing with Quebecor here.
Good point about the Bell conflict.
I wonder, once (if) Bell and Astral are under one corporate umbrella, if CTV will still accept the Beat’s TV commercials? I know money is money, but that would mean AstraBell would be allowing their airwaves to be used to promote the competiton’s radio station. CTV obviously runs a lot of promos for TSN 690, but that’s all in house.
Of course it will. It’s not like CTV refuses ads from Rogers or Telus. If it did, it could get in trouble with the CRTC.
What we might see, though, is more ads for the Astral stations like we see for TSN Radio.
Are you saying at least several of the Celebrity Weather spots on CTV Montreal coming up feature The Beat 92.5 radio people(it doesn’t make sense)? To my knowledge only Cat Spencer of The Beat has been announced so far(he’s coming this week). I assume the other spots will be radio personalities from other Montreal radio stations.
I might be wrong but I don’t think the CRTC has any jurisdiction about what advertising a broadcaster accepts. And yes, another good point about the commercials for competing TelCos.
The CRTC has jurisdiction over everything a broadcaster airs. More importantly, the commission has rules against vertically-integrated companies giving undue preference to companies it controls. The Competition Bureau might also have something to say if a broadcaster refuses ads from a company merely because it’s a competitor.
I agree the CRTC has jurisidiction about what airs but if a commercial is rejected for any reason, that ad did not air.
I don’t want to argue with you, but after spending 20 years in broadcasting I can tell you we did indeed reject advertising that didn’t fit the image the station wanted to project. We turned down ads for (perfectly legal) businesses like strip clubs and “head shops” because they could be construed as offensive to some listeners and that is perfectly within the right of any broadcaster.
I’m not suggesting a broadcaster has to air any ad given to it. I’m saying that deliberately uncompetitive practices toward another vertically integrated broadcaster would be looked down upon by the commission.
Rather than both of us speculate on this, I asked an expert. A friend of mine is a retired senior policy and operations analyst at the CRTC and now runs a consulting service for broadcasters in dealing with CRTC regs and policy. I just dropped him a line and will await his response. I’ll get back to you when I hear from him.
I wrongfully assumed by this time it would improve. The most annoying thing so far was the 2 technical people dancing foolishly yesterday with Jessica. I know they want to convey a fun environment, but it is so amateurish. And Camille with her funny gestures for each day. How will Global stick with this for 5 years? The upside is train wrecks to me are more entertaining than Canada AM, but I feel for the hosts. Well, they are getting paid.
I’m a regular contributor on this show and I for one have seen huge progress in just the few short weeks the new program is on the air. The whole team is very professional and amiable. I think people should give the show a chance. A show like this makes me feel proud to be an English montrealer. Let us all circle back in three months and then post our verdicts.
I gave the show a chance during a bout of insomnia (I work nights). I do have nitpicks but I am merely pointing them out to improve the show.
One little annoyance I have with the traffic reports are that they show the Victoria Bridge traffic moving bidirectionally. This is impossible, as the bridge operates in the direction of the peak flow on weekdays.
Lastly, they are not using autoroute shields for the autoroutes, they are using provincial highways, which is erroneous.
Thanks for all your efforts guys…..I’m liking the local stuff —- more so than ctv’s….\
Bugs here and there…buts its ok…..
Would like a ‘what to do on the weekend’ segment
They showed the hosts today at 6 AM for like 20 seconds, then switched to another show for an hour. How do the technical people not lose their jobs?
Time to weigh in, it’s bern awhile, why doesn’t Shaw get it, hire techs, use servers in Montreal, none of this remote stuff. And while they’re at it, hire some real media people for their segments, none if these blogger types..
And oh yes, can City’s Breakfast Television launch sooner, and Steve any word on City’s studio location yet??
Considering they basically have to create a television station from scratch (everything except the transmitter and antenna), I doubt it. It could launch sooner, but it probably wouldn’t be as good.
Worst morning show on TV
Hosts no chemistry
Maybe a tie would help