After decades of having local news at 6pm and national news at 11pm, CTV is mixing things up a bit, announcing this week that it is launching a new national newscast at 5:30pm weekdays on CTV stations across the country, hosted by Sandie Rinaldo.
On one hand, this could be seen as taking a direct shot at Global, which runs Global National during the supper hour, either before, after or sandwiched between local newscasts depending on the market.
On the other hand, this could be seen as CTV wanting to save some money by eliminating half an hour of local news every day and replacing it with national programming. This interpretation fits with CTV’s statement that National News “now also provides unique segments covering the key stories and events happening across Canada and around the world as part of the early evening CTV News local newscasts on Saturdays and Sundays.”
I asked Bell Media if this means cuts to local news staffing.
“We can confirm there are no impacts to staffing levels as a result of the launch of the 5:30 p.m. edition of CTV National News,” was the statement I got back.
That doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be indirect impacts, but at least there are no layoff notices going out right away.
Starting Nov. 13, CTV stations that have been running 5pm local newscasts for the past six years will see those early programs cut to half an hour and replaced by National News. Then the 6pm local newscasts will be “intensely local-focused,” according to Bell Media, since they won’t have to include as much national and international news content. It might not mean less local news (90 minutes is still plenty) but it will mean having to fill less time, and getting a break during what is right now two straight hours of broadcasting from local stations.
Global already sandwiches national news between two local newscasts in several markets including Montreal, so expect a similar feel at CTV, with the assumption that most people will watch one of the local newscasts but not both.
What early national newscasts will look like is a good question. Will it be like local noon newscasts, where reporters do live hits explaining stories they’re just starting to cover that day? Will national reporters have to file earlier, making the 11pm national newscast mainly rehashing what was reported at 5:30pm, or will the 5:30pm newscast have a lot of stories repeated from 11pm the previous day, or some mix of the two? Or will it be like just watching half an hour of CTV News Channel, but with a somewhat larger budget?
UPDATE (Nov. 16): I watched CTV National News from Nov. 15, its third day on the air. It looked like the same CTV National News we’re used to. There was a bit more of that afternoon live-on-the-scene feel, particularly with some breaking stories. More live throws to reporters, although many of them were probably “look-live” in which the reporter’s part was pre-recorded.
With one exception, the 11pm newscast with Omar Sachedina had the same stories as the 5:30pm one with Sandie Rinaldo, though most of the hard-news ones were updated with the evening’s developments and reporter standups that had less daylight outside.
As for the “intensely local-focused” 6pm newscast, it looked like any other. It stayed local for 20 minutes, but for the rest of the hour I counted a couple of local stories, a couple of local briefs, a live interview and weather segments, and the rest was national news, local news from other CTV stations, and various international stories, including one that mostly duplicated one from the national news. The 5pm local newscast, in its reduced 30-minute version, stayed almost entirely local.