This is the first time Shaw Media is launching a 24-hours news station, but unlike other networks, it will test the waters in Metro Vancouver, where BBM Canada statistics show it has a strong base. Tamara Baluja reports. 

By Tamara Baluja

Global News has invested “millions of dollars” in B.C.’s first 24-hours news channel, which hits the airwaves on Thursday March 14.

Although executives did not reveal the exact dollar figure for Global News: BC 1, Global BC and National News vice-president Kenton Boston told J-Source “it’s a substantial capital investment” and the company created 30 new positions. 

The concept isn’t new: similar 24-hours news channels, such as Bell Media’s CP24 and Roger’s CityNews, have been airing in Toronto for several years, but this is the first time Shaw is venturing into the 24-hours news station. Unlike other networks, it will test the waters in Metro Vancouver, where BBM Canada statistics show it has the lion share of the market. 

"Everybody got started in Toronto. And we feel that Vancouver and other markets are underserved," Boston said. "The broadcast industry is under stress and we feel quite proud that we are able to hire more journalists at this time and show this expansion." 

The channel launches 9 a.m. PST with “AM/BC,” a morning news program hosted by Jill Krop. It’s described as “more than an irreverent morning talk show” that will tackle the hard-topics of the day while also featuring light-hearted stories not covered by other outlets, interviews with expert guests and input from viewers through social media channels.

"We're going to use this show to go a little more in-depth into topics that you can't do properly in a two-minute story," she said. "We've got so much great material that just never gets to air."

Krop says the show has already lined up several guests and subjects, such as David Suzuki for a feature on natural gas and fracking, and other topics such as party buses in Vancouver and transgendered families. 

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Although the show airs at 9 a.m. — a time Krop acknowledges viewers will be at work or in transit — she hopes the conversation will continue online. "That's something we really want to go big on and have people talking about the issues we're covering on social media," she said. 

In addition to "AM/BC," the new channel will feature an evening flagship show called “Top Story.” The half-hour current affairs show airing at 7 p.m. will have a rotating host comprised of Global BC’s anchors and reporters.

The channel’s target audience is females, age 35 to 40, but will also look at attracting younger viewers aged 18 to 35.The news team will be led by four anchors — Sonia Sunger and Leigh Kjekstad on weekdays, and Scott McLean and Asa Rehman on the weekends. >

Boston says Global News will be launching new websites in the coming months. "That's part of our new online strategy and I guess you can say everyone will be doing double duty," he said. "We want to make sure the content is being seen not only on the traditional television network but also on mobile and tablets."

The channel was initially expected to launch in January. It will be run out of a renovated studio in Burnaby. 

Last fall, Global’s competitorCBC also expanded its west coast coverage with new live programming on CBCNews Now.

 

Tamara Baluja is an award-winning journalist with CBC Vancouver and the 2018 Michener-Deacon fellow for journalism education. She was the associate editor for J-Source from 2013-2014.