CBC cutting local TV newscast from 90 to 30 minutes starting next fall

As the CBC continues finding ways to save money, the corporation announced today that it is making changes to local programming.

The biggest one is that evening TV newscasts are being cut from 90 minutes to 60 or 30, depending on the market. Montreal is one of the unlucky ones, being cut to 30 minutes, starting at 6pm. This happens to be CBC Montreal’s weakest half-hour, because it competes directly with CTV News at 6 and Global News.

Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Windsor and Fredericton are also getting cut to 30 minutes. Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Halifax, Charlottetown and St. John’s will stay at 60 minutes because there’s still a “business case” for longer newscasts there, and CBC North will have 30 minutes in English and 30 minutes in Inuktitut.

Evening and weekend news are unchanged, as are local programs on CBC Radio One.

On the French side, the weeknight local Téléjournal broadcasts will be cut to 30 minutes everywhere but Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa/Gatineau and the Acadian region.

There are also smaller changes. CBC Daybreak will be broadcast on television from 6-7am. Currently CBC Television airs a national CBC News broadcast at this time, surrounded by local news, weather and traffic graphics.

There’s also going to be new one-minute hourly news breaks throughout the afternoon and evening on CBC Television.

How this will affect jobs at CBC is unclear at this point. Chuck Thompson, head of public affairs for CBC English Services says there are “no new cuts beyond those announced in June.” The CBC tells Canadian Press that it’s too early to talk about job cuts resulting from this, but not counting staff these changes will save $15 million a year.

Good news, too, kinda

If you want to ignore all that and pretend this is good news, as the CBC does in its press release, these “changes” are part of a transformation process that will focus more on digital. The corporation is vague on what changes are happening to the digital side, but apparently they will be improvements.

On the local side, the CBC will also be adding a videojournalist position in the Eastern Townships to expand coverage there. Right now there’s no private English-language TV or radio journalist permanently assigned to the townships. The CBC has a “researcher columnist” in the region covering it for radio, and occasionally supplements that with the travelling journalist who contributes to CBC Radio’s Quebec Community Network based out of Quebec City. This new position would be in addition to that, covering the townships for TV, radio and the web.

Fort McMurray, Alta., will also get a new news bureau.

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14 thoughts on “CBC cutting local TV newscast from 90 to 30 minutes starting next fall

  1. ATSC

    Totally stupid for the Montreal market.
    CBMT 6.1 (CBC) should have been kept with a 60 min news show that should run from 5-6pm.
    At 6pm , people could watch CFCF 12.1 (CTV), or CKMI 15.1 (Global). Now all three will be up against each other at the same time. How does this benefit the market?

    Again, it shows a lack of understanding of the local market by the centralist minded CBC. And just to add insult to injury, the CBC now considers the English CBC market less than Winnipeg, Ottawa, Halifax, Charlottetown and St. John’s as they get to have a 60min news hour show. I know Montreal has fallen from what it use to be, but have we fallen below the above mentioned cities?

    1. Fagstein Post author

      the CBC now considers the English CBC market less than Winnipeg, Ottawa, Halifax, Charlottetown and St. John’s as they get to have a 60min news hour show.

      Not exactly. Rather, the business case in those markets is stronger than in Montreal. In Charlottetown, for example, CTV and Global don’t have local newscasts, so there’s a strong case for keeping a CBC one there. St. John’s only has NTV to compete with. Ottawa has only CTV and CTV Two.

      In Montreal, CBC’s local newscast gets less than 50,000 viewers, often less than 20,000. There’s just not a strong business case for keeping an hour-long newscast up against the market dominance of CTV Montreal.

      1. Dilbert

        In fairness Steve, CBC local newscasts have been all over the map (and for a while not on the map at all), and they have pretty much done everything possible to alienate viewers and make people NOT connect with them. After 30+ years of training people NOT to watch them, it’s not shocking people don’t consider them an option.

        I also think this is a key indications of the problems of the CBC. For most local stations, news is both an obligation and a connection to the community that pays off through the broadcast day. News is expensive to do, and anyone actually trying to do it reasonably well will invest not only in putting on a local newscast once a day, but will also leverage that content as often during the day as they can. Thus, even mega-cheap Bell has local news early, noon, 6, and 11:30. Why? Because once you have produced the news segements, actually getting it on the air for a “repeat” isn’t that expensive by comparison.

        CBC? Well, we have a big news department, we have a huge local, national, and international presence, so let’s cut back on actually putting it on the air. So what happens is that on a per minute / per hour basis, the costs of news GOES UP, not down, and the viewership for the filler programs that will replace the news will be even lower than the news itself. Worse yet, unless their contract rules allow, they are likely still paying all the same personnel costs related to putting the show on the air (because of minimum shift lengths and stuff), while putting 66% less actually on the air – and then they have to pay for the replacement programming on top of it.

        The CBC deserves to die, it’s run by idiots.

  2. Steve W

    The other markets(Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto….) will be reduced to 60 minutes, from 90 minutes(not stay the same at 60 minutes). CBC Daybreak from 6-7am on CBC Montreal will be live simulcast with CBC Radio 1 Montreal(not from previous edition)?

  3. Stéphane Dumas

    Looks they had taken a note from CKSH-TV when around 2000-2001, they removed the weekdays Noon newscast. http://www.fpjq.org/la-fpjq-estrie-deplore-la-disparition-du-bulletin-du-midi-a-cksh/

    When TQS became V, they removed all newscasts and I think the new owners, the Remillard brothers, might had been on something with their major audience been the Gen-X/Gen-Y/Millenials who seem to prefer the rising of alternate media or an alternate to evening newscats, I think the evening newscasts might return back to their half-hour before their expansion.

  4. Michael Black

    And in a few years time there’ll be an announcement that they’ll “get back to basics” and we’ll get a longer newscast.

    That’s the ping-pong game, one year cutbacks in programming, the next more local programming. It’s like nobody can figure out what to do.

    And each year, it seems like the CBC has less and less purpose. If local programming isn’t important, what is? They seem to get lots of funding, yet the output is quite slim. A two hour prime time, with repeats. No kid’s programming, unless you’re preschool. A handful of shows that aren’t somehow comedy.

    Maybe they need to look elsewhere. Maybe they need to cut things back behind the scenes to improve content output. Lots of bosses, but are they needed if there is less and less to boss?

    I did watch the news at 5pm, I’m less likely when it’s at 6pm.


  5. H. John

    I’m probably not an average viewer. I’m a news, and politics junkie. I used to watch CBC at 6 pm every night – until they changed to the 90 minute format. I just did’t think it worked. They didn’t have the resources to fill 90 minutes, and it showed.

    I moved over to Radio-Canada’s Téléjournal 18H.

    I’ve always liked Patrice Roy. i thought I’d be disappointed losing him as a political correspondent when he took over the job of hosting. Instead, right from the beginning, I was impressed by his skill, and a wonderful team – on and off screen.

    The time dedicated to news, and news analysis, is well balanced. Tonight’s show included a live debate / argument between the Municipal Affairs Minister and the Mayor of Laval live in studio.

    The team members, reporters covering law (Isabel Richer), economics (Gérald Filion), culture (Tanya Lapointe), sports (Marie-José Turcotte), and weather (Pascal Yiacouvakis) are really impressive.

    Would I occasionally go back to a 30 minute show from CBC. I really doubt it.

    The market for English-only is so small that the resources aren’t likely to be available to match the quality of their real competition in a bilingual city.

  6. JV

    It’s too bad cause I feel the CBC Montreal newscast is the best in the city. Nice pace and content. They often lead then Global and CTV report the same stories a day or two later. Arbeck as a solo anchor looks comfortable and is doing a great job, along with Gelevan and the personalty and weather expertise of Cavallaro. 60 mins I think from 6-7pm would have been the right thing.

  7. Mario D

    Not sure if there is such a thing as being a regular and/or addicted to a tv newscast in the MTL region anymore. I would say that i am addicted to a web news page but not to tv anymore. The thing is that tv has to find it`s niche in the news business in between the net and newspaper and 90 minutes is way too long for you not to repeat yourself and/or to copy what is already available on the 24 hrs a day news station.

    We are talking of a totally different ball game though when it comes to the regional newscasts. There are dozens of places i can get news for the Montreal centered medias but how many for the regions like Sherbrooke Trois-Rivieres or even Québec city ? It all comes back to the fact that the CBC/RC should put to better use their resources in the different cities and regions and become a real canadian tv network.
    We lost the touch with the economic and social role of a tv station in MTL but not in the regions and if in a big metropolitan area we could not care less, `tis not the case in small regions and could hurt in so many ways.

    I am afraid though that the trend will go more and more with the radio shows being televised as it is the case on sportsnet and is supposed to be on TSN. Could be interresting because some radio shows are solid but when you use that technique just for filling then i`m not convinced…

  8. Mortemer

    I used to watch the CBC Montreal news from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm and then switch to CTV from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Having the CBC news change from 6:00 pm to 6:30 pm does not work for me so will not be watching when this change happens.
    I would have preferred a 5:30 pm to 6:00 pm newscast from CBC Montreal but I guess the powers to be did not figure out that the new time slot is fully saturated and people like me will not change their habits.
    In the evening, the newscasts are better organized for me. I watch CBC The National from 10:00 pm to 11:00 pm then switch to CTV National News from 11:00 pm to 11:30 pm and finally CTV Montreal from 11:30 pm to 12:00 am.

  9. ClearChannel

    It looks like our taxes aren’t enough, the government has reduced their funding. Maybe they could start pledge drives like Vermont PBS.

  10. Simon

    We have reached a point, where we can not simply give CBC hard earned tax payers money for them to spend foolishly, this is what they are doing. Most of the recent cuts CBC has imposed has not effected the president, and the board of directors who run the CBC.

    CBC should get more funding from the federal government to maintain this commitment.

    CBC in 2012 turned off 600 rebroadcasters instead of converting them to digital to save 10 million a year, this only counts for 1 percent of the federal budget CBC recieves annually.

    Basically most of the cuts are nickel and dime to services just to make a point CBC needs more money for the current president to spend recklessly. The nickelling and dimeing will not stop until the broadcaster is destroyed, and the current president does not carte as most the cuts does not affect him at all. Mr. Lacroix is only there working at the CBC for the pay cheque which is quite obviously.

    What needs to be done insure the money gets spent appropriately, not on services Canadians who normally can access entirely without a third party subscription.

    CBC spends some money in internet radio. http://music.cbc.ca internet radio programme is very much similar in comparison to satellite radio http://www.siriusxm.ca/plans. Alright maybe fifty channels smaller in radio channels.

    Why should CBC compete with satellite radio companies with tax payers money, as an internet broadcaster of satellite radio. This is not what the federal funding CBC gets is intended to be spent foolishly. This commercial free internet radio service does not provide local coverage to many communities in Southwestern Ontario, including Windsor and London. This radio internet service may not provide distinct and local coverage, and can not be accessed without a subscription to internet service provider.

    While CBC spends money on services such as internet radio services, many services CBC offers is being cut ridiculously. Since this CBC Radio internet service is commercial free, so there is no doubt that the money is coming from the federal budget. CBC has planned to cut newscasts in Montreal to a half hour starting in the autumn of 2015. Which service should have more priority. Should it be local television and radio programmes, or internet radio and television streaming. Even if CBC does not have the audience for a two hour newscast. Which is ninety during the diner, and thirty minutes at eleven, then why not create new television shows for viewers in the Greater Montreal area to watch.

    CBC announces changes to local supper-hour newscasts

    Internet radio and television streaming may not be in reach for many of Canadians over the age of fifty, as many may not have the internet or willing to watch television show on the internet as twenty something population. When CBC talks about Digital and mobile, it is referring to mobile internet and fixed internet services. Which is costly under many internet plans with data costs, and may not be 100% reliable as terrestrial television can offer.

    In my personal opinion, CBC should maintain one television and radio channel of local programming in both official languages.

    the National Capital Region, provincial capitals, and territorial capitals
    all markets with populations greater than 300,000.
    all cross border markets greater than 80,000.

    All CBC local Television stations should provide at and maintain least 16 hours per week of local programming, 2 hours of this local content should be not related to news.

    All CBC radio one stations mentioned above shall provide a bare minimum of 88 hours of local distinct programming per week,

    CBC should maintain rebroadcast radio and television stations for all markets of 40,000 or more.

    CBC should not be allowed to use no more than 5% of the federal budget to mobile and fixed internet services. This should keep the public broadcaster from re purposing funds from local radio and television to spend on the world wide web.

    If some of these changes were made, CBC could provide more local programming to Montreal other than just newscasts, and yet many cities across Canada CBC is forcing many to watch CBC Television and Radio Canada from a for profit provider.

    Even the studios in Windsor have been sold to an investor, and rented back to the CBC.

    Accordantly to the CBC they will save money by renting verses owning. I have questioned how they will save money, I get a response back from the managing editor stating “Thank you for your continued interest in the sale of the CBC property in Windsor. I can assure you, with respect, that due diligence was done around the sale of our property and ongoing benefits to CBC both within Windsor and corporately. We will not release further details of the sale for competitive reasons.” The rest of my emails have been simply ignored by the CBC intentionally.

    Even the most stupidest human would disagree that renting is not cheaper than owning your own property. Maybe I should sell my house and rent it instead of owning it. I do not think Mr. Lacroix gives a care about saving the CBC, other than getting a pay cheque at the end of the day. A pay cheque that does not get cutbacks or made redundant unlike the rest of the staff at CBC.


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