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Local news under the microscope

Amid renewed concern about the future of local and regional news at CBC and elsewhere, the Canadian Media Guild has asked the CRTC to require local TV news broadcasts and encourage higher quality newsgathering.

Canadians have told pollsters that local news is the TV programming they are most interested in. Local news can also play an important role in informing people about what is happening in their communities and engaging them in public debates.

Unfortunately, local TV news is in decline across the country partly because of cutbacks at CBC and, more recently, at private stations owned by CHUM. And where news programs have not been cancelled altogether, there have been cuts to electronic news gathering and news documentary production. This is the case for the daily current affairs shows at Sun TV and TVO.

Earlier this week, former CBC president Tony Manera wrote an op-ed for the Ottawa Citizen calling for CBC-TV to drop local news and use the savings to improve local radio news as well as national and international coverage on TV. Guild national president Lise Lareau wrote a letter to the editor, published on September 28, to oppose Manera’s proposal and to insist on the importance of good newsgathering resources in TV, radio and the internet.

Meanwhile, CBC President Robert Rabinovitch told the federal Heritage Committee on September 27 that the Corporation is currently rethinking its approach to local news. Vice president Richard Stursberg said that a new proposal for local and regional news on TV, radio and the internet will be presented to the CBC board in November. The Guild will be watching for the details.

In the brief to the CRTC, the Guild is proposing that conventional broadcasters, including CBC, TVO and Sun TV, get access to a share of cable and satellite fees in order to boost Canadian programming, especially in news/current affairs, kids and youth, documentary and drama. In the case of public broadcasters, the Guild is proposing that the new money fund programming that runs without commercials, in part to counterbalance the growing use of non-traditional advertising, such as product placements and sponsorships. Click here to download the Guild’s brief.

For more information, contact the Guild (info@cmg.ca) at 416-591-5333 or 1-800-465-4149.

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