Apparently, the CBC News Network today accidentally broadcast 45 minutes of Olympic coverage coast to coast.
Errors happen (especially these days when fewer people are controlling more channels), and though I’m not quite satisfied by the explanation that this was a “technical issue”, what amuses me about this story is the errant headline produced by Canadian Press about it (since corrected), that lets us see which websites don’t even read stories before they’re posted:
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Remember that 11pm local newscast that I told you about last month? CBC has announced that it’s launching on Monday.
The new newscasts are being brought in across the country, and will start at 10:55pm, cutting a few minutes into The National.
As I explained last month, the 10-minute newscast would be a rapid-fire recap of the day’s events, with some late-breaking news that’s updated from the 6pm newscast.
And as I explained, there won’t be much of a new budget for this extra programming, so employees will be stetched even further.
CBC Montreal news director Mary-Jo Barr tells Fagstein that Andrew Chang will be the night host, which will have a night reporter filing an updated story, Frank Cavallaro doing live weather, and updates on things like evening Canadiens games. The local newscast will also feature new graphics (an improvement that is sorely needed if you’ve seen some of those graphics over the past few years).
Among other changes on the docket:
- CBC Newsworld gets renamed CBC News Network. This sounds very similar to CTV rebranding CTV Newsnet as CTV News Channel, and about as pointless. The new CBC NN (not to be confused with CNN) will have a new schedule with some new shows, for anyone who actually cares about the schedule of a 24-hour news network.
- An online 10-minute version of The National by 6pm. A good idea, provided they can provide it in enough formats for it to be accessible (like, say, in a downloadable podcast form for those of us on the go). The newscast will also be “customizable”, in that viewers will be able to select which stories will be part of it. Not quite sure how that will work, but the concept makes sense.
- The National moves to 6pm on Saturday to avoid conflicting with NHL coverage. Because hockey is more important than news.
- A “faster pace” and “new format” for The National which includes more stuff from Marketplace and the Fifth Estate. In other words, reusing staff from one show to provide cheap content for another.
- More “transparency” in news reporting. It’s unclear what they mean by this, though they give the example of explaining the CBC’s policy on reporting on kidnappings. Of course, this would be welcome by people like me, but I’m skeptical that CBC News can get a culture of true transparency going without it getting torpedoed by marketing interests eventually.
- Wendy Mesley will appear regularly on The National to generate “debate”. Make your own Wendy Mesley/Peter Mansbridge joke here.
- Kady O’Malley starts a political blog. You know Kady, she used to blog for Maclean’s before CBC poached her.
- World Report, which airs mornings at the top of the hour, will add a newscast at 5am for those poor souls who are up at that hour. This sounds a bit odd, considering Daybreak starts at 5:30. Are they going to fill that extra 20 minutes with national content, or just continue their overnight programming?
Someone at CBC has been doing “market research” again, which means a few good ideas and a lot of really bad ones (The Tea Makers has some more details with the usual marketing and managingese):
- Replacing “Saturday Report” and “Sunday Report” with “The National”: Good. It’s your evening news show, why should it have different names on different days? Sure, it doesn’t have The Mans, but that’s not the end all and be all of CBC Television
- Rebranding CBC Newsworld: Bad. Anyone who hasn’t heard of Newsworld either doesn’t have cable or doesn’t use it to get news. Neither of these things will change with a new name.
- Putting L-shape on-screen graphics on CBC Newsworld: Bad. I mean, there is some room for improvement in the graphics department, but using CP24 as a guide is a bad way to start, and the idea of putting a bunch of graphics on screen like weather reports and news crawlers (does anyone read those things?) will just make it look like CTV Newsnet, in a bad way.
- De-formalizing The National: To make it more like The Hour? Gonna have Mansbridge stop wearing ties and give the news while breakdancing? I doubt people ignore this program because of its formality.
- Reporting rumours: You’re kidding me, right? Quoting directly from the Globe: “Newsworld will not necessarily wait for the definitive word on a story before beginning to report.” If that’s true, it means Newsworld’s journalism standards have taken a major hit.
- 10-minute The National podcast by 6pm: Good. Probably will have a limited audience, but so long as the resources put into it are limited, it makes sense.
- More transparency in news reporting: Absolutely. Journalists (and more importantly their managers) need to get out of the mindset that they should hide where they get their ideas from. Yeah, it sucks when you get scooped. Live with it. Trying to deceive your public will only backfire on you.
- Merging local news with The National: This one wasn’t explained very well, but seemed to involve having a local anchor take over at the end of the show and give some local news. It sounds good in theory, but it also sounds a lot like the CBC News Now or whatever that 6pm project was called that had Ian Hanomansing doing fake handoffs to local news anchors.
- Renaming CBC Radio News as CBC Audio News: Stupid.
- More foreign correspondents: CBC’s getting second thoughts since they don’t have someone stationed in India. But they also just fired a bunch of foreign correspondents. So this probably won’t happen, even though it should.
- More exciting language: Bad. Anchors will be encouraged to keep viewers hooked using CNN-style marketing hype, always saying they’re covering an issue and more information is coming. I’m always surprised when news organizations believe that inserting marketing language into editorial content is OK when all you’re hyping is yourself
- Online-first policy for breaking news: Good. Holding stories so broadcast can get first crack at them is just asking for someone to scoop you on it. Neither medium should wait for the other.
- Extending afternoon local radio: Great. It always amazed me that CBC Radio One’s local office essentially shut down at 6pm and that even the weather reports aired after that were pre-recorded. The new plan would have 6:30 and 7pm local newscasts.
- Live afternoon TV news breaks: Why not? The private networks do it. If your choice during a commercial break is between an in-house commercial pulled from a drawer and a live news update with a local anchor, go for the latter.
The Globe and Mail, at the end of a longer article on a possible new TV channel for CBC Sports, reports that the audience for Hockey Night in Canada actually went up last weekend when they telecasted the Habs game nationally instead of the Leafs, in every region except British Columbia. The increase is modest, and it doesn’t include Ontario (because they still got the Leafs game), where almost half the audience resides.
Still, a ratings increase speaks to CBC’s bottom line, so expect more nationally-telecast Habs games in the future.
The other part of the Globe article says the CBC is in the initial thinking phase of a new amateur sport TV specialty channel. They aren’t even close to going to the CRTC yet, so this is still a long ways off. It might also conflict with the Canadian Olympic Committee, which is also thinking of an amateur sport channel. (UPDATE: The Globe discusses some of the hurdles such a channel might face in getting regulatory approval)
Meanwhile, the CBC has applied to the CRTC for a license amendment allowing CBC Newsworld to setup an HD channel. It’s unlikely to face any opposition, so we could see CBC Newsworld HD within the next few months.