Red Deer could have bureau for 24-hour TV news channel

Shaw Media plans to create a 24-hour television news channel, with Red Deer one of its bureaus.

Shaw Media plans to create a 24-hour television news channel, with Red Deer one of its bureaus.

The parent company of Global Television confirmed on Monday that it’s applied to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission for a specialty programming channel that would combine a national news feed with local content from as many as 28 communities. Those communities would include the 12 where Global currently operates conventional television stations, as well as eight others where there’s no local television news or it’s limited. Red Deer and Fort McMurray would be among these.

Shaw Media is also proposing that eight small-market, independent broadcasters would add their local content as well.

“We’re hopeful that we can get a (CRTC) decision and move to the point where we’d be looking to launch by fiscal 2016 — so some time between next September and the following August,” said Troy Reeb, Shaw Media’s senior vice-president, news and station operations.

The channel, which would be called Global News 1, would employ about a half-dozen staff in Red Deer, said Reeb. These would consist primarily of journalists and sales people.

The national news feed would be interspersed with regular local newscasts in each market, he said.

“On a typical day, what you would see is Red Deer news updates at the top and bottom of the hour through the day,” said Reeb.

This local content would average about eight minutes per hour, he added.

“What we told the commission is that in Red Deer we would have at least 10 1/2 hours of local news a week on the channel.”

National news would also be pre-empted by local and even provincial breaking news, said Reeb. A continuous feed of local headlines and community events would also appear on the screen.

Red Deer was left without a local television station for the first time in more than 50 years when CHCA-TV shut down on Aug. 31, 2009. Its owner, Canwest Global Communications Corp., entered into bankruptcy protection soon after and its broadcasting division was sold to Shaw Communications Inc., Shaw Media’s parent.

Reeb said the way Global News 1 delivers news will contrast sharply with the practice of CHCA-TV, which aired newscasts at set times every evening.

“The staff were scheduled around the deadlines and the show production in the old model; the new model is one in which the staff are scheduled around the news events.

“As events are happening, journalists will be out covering it and as soon as the event is done they will be, in many cases, editing and filing from the field a full television package — that would be anchored form the field in some cases and in other cases back in the newsroom — and then that would go back into a digital server for playback at the next available opportunity.”

If approved by the CRTC, Global News 1 would be provided as part of a cable package, said Reeb. He believes regional viewers will subscribe to it, despite the availability of alternatives like CBC News Network and CTV News Channel.

“We know that, all things being equal, local is going to win nine times out of 10.”

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