Last week’s CRTC licensing decision has set the stage for Rogers to reintroduce daily local news on CITY in western Canada for the first time in over a decade and daily multicultural regional news on OMNI since it was taken off the air in 2015.
While Rogers competed hard in Toronto against rival media, local news had almost disappeared from CITY-TV Vancouver’s coverage in recent years with only a few minutes of local news every morning on CITY’s Breakfast TV show and three 30 minute multicultural community affairs shows on OMNI.
The Rogers’ coverage of the BC’s election eve was a case in point. While other broadcasters were investing in live coverage using dozens of employees at each of the three major party headquarters and various regional locations; Rogers only had a couple of news cameras assigned for next day coverage. They even used a radio reporter’s iPhone video of the Green party headquarters from Victoria.
With the new CRTC requirement to produce six hours of locally reflective news, Rogers has a big opportunity to build a fresh local news content delivery system that plugs into a traditional six o’clock slot while at the same time be designed for digital content models of the future.
The challenge is for Rogers to invest in high quality, well-funded local news content that attracts a new generation of information hungry multi-platform consumers, everywhere but especially in Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary, at both the CITY and OMNI stations. Canadians need local news that informs the public and in doing so strengthens our democracy; challenging both political and corporate powers.
I hope the Liberal government and next CRTC Chairperson will pay attention to Rogers’ next moves —and those of CTV and Global as well— to ensure they provide the quality local news that western Canada deserves.
President, Unifor Local 830-M