About the Blog:

Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Saving Local TV

If you've been watching your local CTV or A-Channel station lately, then you know about their campaign to "Save Local TV." Well Saturday, CTV Southwestern Ontario in Kitchener held an open house to drum up support on their end, and by all accounts it seemed to be a rousing success.By the time I got to CTV's King St. location, just before 11 o'clock, there was already a line-up that extended around the front of the building and down the side. All that was involved was a basic tour of the newsroom and studio area; about five stops over 30 minutes. And for that, people lined up in the warming Saturday sun for about 30 minutes to an hour. (My wait was closer to 40 minutes.)

The crux of the situation is that ad revenues are way down for local TV stations, even in spite of the fact that satellite and cable companies are making billions just by carrying the channels. None of that money makes it back to the stations, however. And with time-shifting there's less incentive to tune into your local station when you can watch your favourite program anytime in a six-hour window.

If I may offer my two cents though, I think this is emblematic of deeper problem: how are you to encourage people to watch their local station when everything on it, with the exception of local newscasts, is exactly the same as the others? Sure, there may be one or two different programs squeezed in between network mandated programming line-ups, but there's actually very few hours in the day that a local station can call their own. Not to mention there's a real lack of separate identity: it's CTV Southwestern Ontario now, not CKCO Kitchener. The irony is, in the case of the A-Channel stations at least, that before being folded into the A-Channel network, all those stations were pretty individualistic.

But no matter how we got here, the point is still important and timely. At the very least, information that affects you daily, that has or will have an immediate impact on your life, will be seen on your local newscast. It's like why I say voting in municipal elections is important: it's where 99 per cent of the things that affect you a daily basis happen. The national news covers national issues, you want to know about school funding, property taxes, local festivals and sports, you go to your local TV station. It's worth saving and supporting.

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