Broadcaster wants viewers to pay for local newscasts

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Bell says it has been losing money for years on local broadcasts, as ‘the revenue side of the business has run out of steam’

By: 

September the 11th, 2014

Local TV stations can no longer survive on ad revenue alone and must be able to introduce subscription fees for programming such as regional newscasts that have been free for decades, Bell Canada told a regulatory hearing Wednesday.

“The revenue side of the business has run out of steam,” Bell Media president Kevin Crull said during the third day of a two-week Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) review of the nation’s broadcasting system.

The process is to produce changes by the end of 2015 that could include mandated pick-and-pay options for cable and satellite subscribers and the elimination or modification of some regulations that are out of step in a digital age.

The growth of the Internet has splintered ad revenue across various platforms so that despite rising viewership, the 30 local outlets operated by Bell’s CTV English-language network lost a combined $12 million last year. CTV owned and operated stations include CFTO in Toronto and CKNY in North Bay.

Crull said local programming has been in the red for four of the past five years and Bell is running out of patience.

“It would be terrible to abandon any of these local communities but if I thought it would make local (news) sustainable, I would,” he told the hearing in Gatineau, Que.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. After a half century “career” in broadcasting (now over), you’d think I’d care more.
    These whining corporations, and the less than useless CRTC combine to give me a great big yawn.
    I know… news, especially local news is immediately important to us all, and international news is strategically important for some of us, but the world progressed before television, before radio and before we became marionettes dancing to the tune of media spin. I sometimes wonder if this modern version informes us, or attempts to persuade us.
    I read my local (municipal) papers which have pretty much everything I NEED to know as a homeowner in my neighbourhood; I watch BBC – the most credible info in my opinion, and my local radio station tells me (albeit often inaccurately) what traffic I might expect whenever I ever tread the rush hour, which is rarely.
    So, maybe mark me down as a retiree who just doesn’t give a s**t anymore.

  2. Well, we never asked for CTV2 here in Victoria; you just put it on one day. So if it’s not working out for you, just take it off. We’re grownups, we’ll understand.

  3. If Bell Media really wants to increase revenue, forget local news….

    Most television news sucks, anyhow, and has an air of amateurish about it.

    Just run info-mercials for telephone sex services like on the Tele-Latino channel.

    For those ladies who careers in tv news are struggling, just transfer to phone sex work.

    At least the pay and hours will be better, plus you can work from home and/or raise a kid all at the same time !

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