By Tamara Baluja, Associate Editor
Global News wants to launch a 24-hour national-local news hybrid channel it hopes it will make its local channels more profitable.
Its parent company, Shaw Media, has applied for a single licence coast-to-coast with the CRTC, but with 28 local community feeds. It’s never been done before, but if approved, Global News 1 will launch in 2016 and create approximately 100 new jobs for journalists.
The concept of a 24-hour new channel isn’t new—Toronto’s CP24 and Global BC1 are successful local examples, while CTV News Channel and CBC News Network operate nationally. These stations eschew the traditional packaged model of supper-hour and late-night news shows and can respond to breaking news as it happens.
The key difference from these existing offerings is that Global envisions its channel will let local newsrooms choose when to broadcast local news and when to flip to a national news feed.
“We hear it all the time: audiences want more local news,” said Troy Reeb, senior vice-president of Global News. “But at the same time, media companies have been pulling out of smaller markets, because they’re not as profitable.”
The result often is national news channels that prioritize the news in Toronto, where many of them have their headquarters—much to chagrin of audiences and journalists in other Canadian cities.
“I think some of the frustration with national news channels is that I get 50 per cent of the news from Toronto, and being here in Winnipeg, aside from Rob Ford stories, I don’t care,” said Global Winnipeg’s The Morning show co-host Derek Taylor in the video below. “I want to know what’s going on where I live.”
With 28 community feeds, Troy said local newsrooms will be able to choose what they broadcast to their audiences.
“Let’s say there is a major subway closure in Toronto because of flooding,” Reeb said. “Then, maybe the Mississauga and Toronto stations want to carry that feed. And maybe all the other Ontario cities that don’t care about the subway closure in Toronto can carry a big provincial story out of Queen’s Park instead about transit. And let’s say there is a big national story, like a plane crash in B.C. or internationally. Well, all of those remaining newsrooms will be running with that story instead of the transit debate.”
Global currently has 12 local stations—Calgary; Edmonton; Halifax; Lethbridge, Alta.; Montreal; Okanagan, B.C.; Regina, Saskatoon, Toronto and Winnipeg, as well as Global BC and Global New Brunswick. It plans to add newsrooms in eight more stations in areas it believes are underserved: Fort McMurray and Red Deer, Alta.; Mississauga, Sault Ste. Marie and Niagara region, Ont.; Ottawa; Charlottetown; and Quebec City.
It also wants to partner with eight independent broadcasters—CKPG in Prince George, B.C.; CFJC in Kamloops, B.C.; CHAT in Medicine Hat, Alta.; CKSA/CITL in Lloydminster, Alta./Sask.; CHFD in Thunder Bay, Ont.; CHEX in Peterborough, Ont.; CKWS in Kingston, Ont.; and CJON in St. John’s—that will be able to take advantage of Global’s around-the-clock national news feeds and can add their own local content and retain all local advertising in their markets.
“Look, I think it’s a win-win,” Reeb said. “We don’t want to compete with them as they’re already struggling. But this way, they get to keep all the local advertising and we get more viewers and can sell even more national advertising.”
Reeb said he doesn’t want to prop up the existing business model. “We want to come up with new ideas.”
As a result of this planned launch, Global also made some staffing changes.
Mike Omelus is the new vice-president of national and network news. In this newly created role, Omelus will oversee Global National and The West Block, the graphic department in Toronto as well as the parliamentary and foreign bureaus. Omelus is currently the senior director for southern Alberta and will relocate to Toronto by January.
Kenton Boston, vice-president of Global BC and national news, will become vice-president of Western Canada; he will move to Calgary. “A key focus will be on continuing to leverage the combined power of the Shaw and Global brands and supporting Shaw’s Wi-Fi Plus strategy through the provision of local content on all platforms,” Reeb said in an announcement.
In addition to being the Global Edmonton station manager, Tim Spelliscy will become director of community integration and will focus on collaboration with Shaw TV, marketing, sales and community groups in western markets.
Gerry Belec’s role as director of news production and technology will expand to oversee development of new techniques for producing news from the field.