Tuesday, October 06, 2009

THE MEDIA IN CANADA IS A MESS: CANWEST GOES BUST, AND OTHER STUFF

I really enjoyed doing these silly Dave Letterman posts, and also my posts on cult B-movie actress Claudia Jennings from the weekend. What a hot, f*cking babe with a screen presence, folks. If you haven't seen a Claudia Jennings movie, you haven't lived. After writing about her, I'm now totally revved up and want to seek out the other movies she did that are out there on DVD.

It's a lot of fun writing about movies and entertainment, not only for this blog but everywhere else. Now, THE CAIRNS BLOG lifts itself up from the deep end of the pool to go back to talking about important matters that the chattering classes in this country care about. Such as the state of the media here.

WINNIPEG-BASED CANWEST GLOBAL: IN THE SINK

Well, I take no joy from this news about Canwest finally receiving approval for protection from creditors. Now, who knows what will happen -- probably the usual, more layoffs. What can I say, the media industry sucks these days.

People have been focusing on what will happen to all the TV stations but people forget that these guys at Canwest own most of the most prominent newspapers in Canada. If Canwest goes bust, what happens to these papers? There's a few rumblings about deals in the works to sell these papers. Where, who knows?

These sad news reporters at these media outlets may as well beg their favorite politicians for a job, because there is no hope left. Incidentally, one guy I know from radio did just that. He quit radio news and now is doing PR for the city -- and probably for more money. But I digress. 

On the subject of the Global TV stations, there is some speculation about the possibility of Canwest ending up foreign-owned. What foreigner wants them, though -- that's my big question. No doubt, though, this court protection from creditors will only add more fuel to all the debates in this country about whether the CRTC should force cable companies to hand over more loot to the TV networks -- loot, by the way, that is paid for by all of us working stiffs who pay for cable and satellite. Earlier this year the CRTC ordered the cable companies to give up some of their revenues to help pay for local programming, but they didn't order fees-for-carriage. In response to that, the cable and satellite companies decided to hike cable fees, provoking the expected outrage from cable customers, and blamed it all on the networks. The networks, meanwhile are all banding together with their Local TV Matters campaign, which is designed to basically force the federal regulators to hose the cable companies and force them to hand over fees-for-carriage to CTV, Global, CBC, and everyone else.

Lovely, eh? And if that happens, the cable companies will again turn around and hose the consumers to cover their losses. The kicker is, we're going to see no improvement with what we get on our own TV screens. We'll keep on seeing the exact same crap on TV we are seeing now. All that will be accomplished is that you'll be paying more money just to keep the local newscast on the air that shouldn't have to be cancelled to begin with. It just seems to me like civic-mindedness and community commitment is missing from the whole equation. None of these TV station owners seem committed to covering the news. All they care about is money.

As I have said before, the TV industry is all about.politics, bureaucracy and lobbyists in this country. Who cares about the actual viewers, it seems.

CKX BITES THE BIG ONE

Mind you, there is money being lost in this recession -- and there's been some more fallout from the money woes facing the smaller local stations in Canada these days. Earlier this year the E! Network station in Red Deer closed down completely when the network was shut down, and the A Channel affiliate in Wingham also closed. Now CKX Television in Brandon, Manitoba, CTV-owned but in reality an affiliate of the CBC, is the latest victim. It had been put up for sale by owners CTV at bargain basement prices ($1), and they had sold it on two separate occasions -- only for the buyers to back out both times. It happened for the second time last week, and this time CTV gave up the ghost and closed the station immediately, and laid everyone off. CKX went black immediately after its evening newscast Friday; after that, the local cable company replaced the CKX signal with the feed from CBC out of Winnipeg. This station in Brandon had been in operation since the mid-Fifties!!! It's really too bad - and I actually believe CTV when they say they didn't want to have to close the station. I think they just wanted somebody to just take it off their hands, as they only got the station as leftovers as part of the deal they made to acquire the CHUM empire. But they tried to sell it for months on end, and no one wants it. So now it's all over.

I can see why they would have problems there. Brandon is a community of something like 40,000 people, so I imagine there would be big problems finding advertisers willing to pay money these days in a market that small -- especially with all these other media options. But still -- Medicine Hat has a station, so does Prince Albert, same for Lloydminster and Yorkton. They could have made something work in Brandon like they do in those places. Then again, maybe those communities are next. 

As you know I lived in Manitoba for a short period of time, but my local TV came out of Winnipeg. I was never in the coverage area of CKX. But I do remember covering a local story on a new flight training facility for the air force that the CKX people drove in to report on. And I did travel to Brandon to do a story there one time, so this is definitely a sad time for that community. They really deserve better. Here's a look at the station as it faded to black.

Bye bye, CKX. Interesting that all these media woes in the past week are mainly affecting operations based in Manitoba, of all places. That is it for right now.

(UPDATE.) Here is an account of the final day at CKX-TV from the Wheat City Journal.

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