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CKPR and CHFD could be on their last legs...

Thunder Bay, Ont., could see both its local TV stations sign off for the final time Sept. 1.

The stations are currently in the red and running on funds from life insurance policies, not revenue, Don Caron, vice president and general manager of Thunder Bay Electronics told a Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) panel in Gatineau, Que., Wednesday.

“The reason we’re still operating is that we’re burning those non-broadcast assets to stay in business, awaiting to see if there’s some way we can work out and the Commission can hear our plight of angst, if you will.”

This isn’t a threat, Caron said, it’s simply the reality for Thunder Bay Electronics, also known as Dougall Media. The two stations in jeopardy are CKPR and CHFD – Global Thunder Bay, which has local programming along with Shaw Media content.

The state of local TV has grown increasingly grim as advertising revenues plummet. The change is due to a number of factors, including competition from speciality channels and Internet content providers such as Netflix.
Shocking.

What exactly is wrong with our broadcasting industry in comparison to the U.S. that leads to even the mere contemplation of this?
 

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I am surprised they lasted this long. Most independent, smaller market Canadian stations went bankrupt or were sold to regional or national networks 10 to 20 years ago. The first hit was the expansion of specialty stations. Then satellite created competition from out of market stations. Combined with that was the decline of local and regional small businesses as US based big box stores moved into Canada. Local and regional small businesses buy advertising on local independent stations. Multinational corporations don't. They mostly just buy national network time.

Why did this happen to Canada and not as much in the US? Unlike the FCC, the CRTC failed to protect independently owned broadcasters from out of market stations and the networks that own them. For example, Bell started ExpressVu satellite and beamed it's Toronto, Vancouver and other big city stations into every market in Canada. They also use their Toronto and Vancouver stations to simsub US broadcasts. The rules state that local stations must be used for simsubs but Bell ignored that. The rules also state that out of market Canadian stations must be simsubbed with local broadcasts. Bell conveniently ignored that as well. Unsurprisingly, smaller market stations suffered, often went went bankrupt and were bought by the very networks that helped cause their demise.

CKPR and CHFD did eventually get some protection in the form of blacked out distant stations in their local markets. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough.
 

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If people were watching the local stations, those stations would generate advertising revenues. But there is no reason for people to watch local TV when it offers nothing more than regional, national or international stations offer.

We never tune to our closest local TV station (CHBC). Internet web sites and local papers provide all of the local news we need. And I am not in favour of paying (through taxes or fees) to support a station simply because it is local. It has to offer something (content or quality) I can't get elsewhere.
 

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I get all my news delivered to me through Facebook, local and non-local, all in one place. I have not watched local tv news in years. It's simply more convenient to me to get my fix online.
 

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While its true that local news is slowly disappearing in many communities in Ontario, I am still skeptical about people utilizing Facebook/Social Media to get their news fix. I am still not in favour of believing every piece of news article I read or see being shared on Facebook / social media. A lot of people post news stories that are fake, or unverified, or from news sites no one has ever heard of.

How many times have I seen people share an article telling me not to eat Nutella because its bad for you, then a few days later the same poster shares a link about top 10 recipes you can make with Nutella, Really? shaking my head! I understand technology is changing and Facebook is filling a gap that the local TV industry is losing, but I don't think its a great idea to believe everything you read on social media, at least not at this time.
 

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Paolo, I agree that FaceBook is probably not the best for reliable news. But there are legitimate online sources for local news (Castanet.net is an example in the area I live).

And I wish the local and regional TV news people would heed your warning. I hate hearing reporters on Global (for example) site FaceBook or Twitter as a source for a story. If that is the source for the TV news, you can't blame other people for relying directly on social media for their news.
 

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How many times have I seen people share an article telling me not to eat Nutella because its bad for you, then a few days later the same poster shares a link about top 10 recipes you can make with Nutella, Really? shaking my head! I understand technology is changing and Facebook is filling a gap that the local TV industry is losing, but I don't think its a great idea to believe everything you read on social media, at least not at this time.
And how many times have you seen the local news station do a health segment on why X is bad, and then six months later do a health segment on why X is good? CTV Halifax was notorious for that. Reporting science news properly is hard, and the local stations don't have the expertise to do it.

"Don't believe everything you hear" is standard advice, it doesn't only apply to online news. The big difference between them is that online news travels instantly, whenever I want it, not when the TV schedule dictates it's time for it. Considering how bad some of the local news reporting in this country is, I'm surprised people think it's so great.
 

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The key difference, is people on Facebook will share a story about the world is flat like a pancake and make it go viral, but local and national news outlets wont likely air such story on the local news. People who share such stories on Facebook likely don't have a journalism background, don't have a producer, editor, or team to do reference checks on stories, etc. they just publish junk with the goal of it going viral.
 

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The owner of these local TV Channels has had a monopoly on the local broadcast industry for over 60 years. This owner owns 8 local sources of media. These include 2 television stations, 4 radio stations, 1 weekly newspaper and a news website.

I believe these television stations are making money. They just aren't making as much as they used to.

The taxpayers should not be subsidizing these television channels. The owner has made a fortune over the last 60 years.
 

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In Hamilton, CBC has done a pretty good job at covering Hamilton stories with their website CBC Hamilton I find that it's a better source than CHCH. I don't have an issue with reading news updates via social media (I do it everyday) but the main problem is many people are only getting the top stories delivered and not necessarily getting all the news that is important in their community. Also the "news" that people get on social media is dependent on what they are following.
 

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If people were watching the local stations, those stations would generate advertising revenues...
And I am not in favour of paying (through taxes or fees) to support a station simply because it is local...
I agree. They've been supplanted by newer and better technology, and are well on their way to becoming extinct, much like video rental stores.
But there still seems to be many deluded self-righteous people in that business who think they're more important than they are, expecting or almost demanding the rest of us pay some kind of tax or fee to keep them from disappearing.
 

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The key difference, is people on Facebook will share a story about the world is flat like a pancake and make it go viral, but local and national news outlets wont likely air such story on the local news. People who share such stories on Facebook likely don't have a journalism background, don't have a producer, editor, or team to do reference checks on stories, etc. they just publish junk with the goal of it going viral.
People on Facebook will also share stories about the downsides of the provincial government's forestry deal while no local media outside the CBC will, because Irving happens to own most of it and advertise on the rest.

We can do this all day. Local TV is not some utopia that's being destroyed by the rampant evils of technology, especially with how bad and error prone a lot of local news reporting is.
 

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I suspect the CRTC won't do anything.Local stations will close and most news will come out of Regional hubs

BC-Vancouver or Victoria(not sure which buut I think Vancouver)
Alberta-Calgary
Saskatchewan-Regina
Manitoba-Winnipeg
Ontario-Toronto
Quebec-Montreal
Maritimes-Halifax

Most news from cities left out, viewers/listeners will either have to get it via newspapers,radio or on line news segments like they have presently on local stations.

As for other programming we presently have "Time-Shifting" channels those cities mentioned above will become the "local feeds" for those regions.
 

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For local TV news to survive, there has to be an appetite for it. If nobody is watching, advertising revenue will disappear, and so will the station. Why should the communications companies -- ie us through our bills -- be forced to subsidize something that has upwards of 90% duplication on other stations (ie everything excluding local news)? I admit that I watch my local Global morning news but if it were to disappear, I would not shed a tear.
 

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Watch some of the clips from the CRTC's hearing on Local and Community TV. Even though it's difficult to believe anything some of the Bell/Rogers puppetmasters spew forth, they both seemed to genuinely convey that viewer ratings are not a problem with local newscasts. We need to be careful calling the journalism establishment "deluded self-righteous people" because conversely, over-simplistically referring to social media as "newer and better technology" is being just as ignorant. Just because you may not watch anything on TV anymore because you think your smartphone is altogether "better" and a wholesale replacement of everything previously deemed useful, that doesn't mean you can generalize your preference to the entire population.
The problem is that advertisers seem fixated on millenials even though seniors are about to become the largest demographic. Furthermore, it's well established that digital ad revenue is paltry; those in the business use the expression "dollars to dimes" because as the marketplace becomes more fragmented, advertisers seem to want their costs to magically decrease indefinitely. It's not as though commercial advertisers have, say, in the last decade, completely abandoned conventional linear TV newscasts and just moved directly over to, say, sponsoring ads on Facebook. Nobody wants to pay anything, anymore, especially not consumers who are incrementally willing to share all their personal information in exchange for "free" services.
Hypothetically, I'd like to see all traditional news sources (newspapers and TV stations) vanish overnight, and then survey all the smartphone news junkies as to how satisfied they are with their curated newsfeeds, newly devoid of all professional content. It's not as though trending analytics of mass personal contributions to the Twittersphere can somehow generate credible news reports unless one's preference is literally to only consume breaking gossip headlines.
 

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Regardless of who the largest demographic is going to be, rating are a problem if you are not attracting the viewers that the advertisers want. All of the seniors in the country can be watching local news, but if they are not the ones buying the products of the advertisers then there is going to be a funding problem for any advertising based operation.

We already have a tax based broadcaster. It is my belief that the CBC should be filling the gaps that can't economically be filled by advertising based traditional broadcasters, so maybe they should be directed to fill the gaps in local news (seemingly the opposite of what they have been doing). The private broadcasters seem to be able to cover national and international news.
 

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Main difficulty in getting CBC to fill the gap is that it requires the government to actually have a plan for CBC, which hasn't been the case in 20 years.

CBC could do it, though.
 

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I must admit, I live in a big city in the Greater Toronto Area, so I am used to always getting local news from many different television networks. Because of this, it seems "normal" for people in the GTA to be used to receiving local news on TV anytime they want and all the time. I did some travelling in my past across Ontario and visited many small towns and villages, and although at the time I did not pay much attention to it, yes I can now say that there were some parts of the province where local news is non existent or very difficult to obtain. For me, I was more interested in watching GTA news because that's where I am from so I wanted to stay current and it surprised me that I could get local Toronto 6-8 hours away from Toronto, but no news about the Town or village I was visiting. This can definitely be a problem. I even noticed the majority of people reading Toronto Star/Sun up there too, but there were some small towns I visited where a local newspaper existed and people actually read it to get their news fix because there was no other way to get news and current events.

All in all, yes I see a decline local TV, and I know it can't be good for such communities, but I don't think digital media such as face book or social networks will fill that gap, at least not at this time, but it may take time for things to change, so it won't be overnight. But yes there also must be some kind of filter to weed out the unnecessary news reports such as nutella being bad for you and focus on the community as a priority.
 

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It's all about the ratings and advertising - I think many would be surprised how few people watch some of the local news programs across the country - even in big cities.

A small market may be lucky to draw 5000 to 10,000 viewers - and may not even draw that. Many advertisers are not going to pay good money to reach that small of an audience - and with ad rates dropping on television even for highly rated shows, and less people watching television, it's time will shortly come.

Canadians would be surprised how many channels get <200 and <500 viewers through the day (especially overnight) - it's a tough market!
 

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It's also about political influence. That's why the CBC did not pull out of Ottawa and the provincial capitals like it did many other cities. Political influence is not lost on privately owned broadcasters either. A few back benchers in cities like Thunder Bay are not going to matter when it comes to setting broadcasting policy. Local city politicians don't even rate a call back. Political capitals get all the juice.
 
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