September 22, 2014 4:09 pm
Updated: September 24, 2014 10:52 am

Shaw Media announces proposal for 24-hour channel Global News 1


WATCH: Another big change for Canada’s rapidly evolving TV landscape. Shaw Media, the parent company of Global News, confirmed today it has applied to create a brand new 24-hour news channel. Mike Drolet has the details.

TORONTO – Putting local news first while offering pertinent national news is the idea behind a new 24-hour specialty channel proposed by Shaw Media.

Shaw, the parent company of Global News, submitted its application to the CRTC Aug. 12 to launch Global News 1, a news station that will be subscription-based.

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“No matter what market you’re watching in across the country, your local information would be that which scrolls across the bottom of the screen, is featured at the top and bottom of the hour in the headlines,” said Senior Vice President of Global News and Station Operations Troy Reeb.

“We know that we also want to build this community of interest across Canada, so that when there is big breaking news happening or big stories out of Parliament Hill or other parts of the country, you’ll be able to get those there on the channel, too.”

Reeb says the channel would build off of BC 1, the 24-hour news channel launched by Global News in March 2013.

“What we’re hoping for is to actually say to the CRTC, let’s not build this in fits and starts and single markets across the country,” he said.

While many news consumers go online to find specific content, Reeb says Global News 1 would cut through the extraneous noise.

“There are literally thousands upon thousands of stories at any given hour, and our job is to be the editors who are going to cut through that and present it to them with some context—and hopefully a little bit of personality so they can relate to the stories as they happen across the country.”

While the websites are not currently subscription-based, the advantage of the new channel for Shaw is the dual revenue stream.

“We would want to be able to provide the value added of those live streams as it happens, context and personality—that will be the value proposition of the channel,” said Reeb. “I think that the online properties for now, the value proposition will be that choice of basically picking and choosing stories.”

He said the recently unveiled Netflix competitor shomi will remain a separate entertainment service, but the channel is looking at ways to integrate Shaw TV.

Shaw met with the CRTC the week of August 18, and expects CRTC hearings to begin in spring 2015. If approved, Global News 1 expects to launch in spring 2016.

If approved, Global News 1 will feature distinct local feeds in all 12 markets where Global currently operates conventional television stations.  It would also add local newsrooms to eight more communities where there is either no local television news or limited competition. This proposal would include Fort McMurray and Red Deer, Alta.; Sault Ste. Marie, Niagara, Mississauga and Ottawa, Ont.; Quebec City, Que. and Charlottetown, P.E.I.

Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion said she would be in favour of the model Shaw is proposing.

“If this application by Global is going to give Mississauga the recognition—we support it. Because it’s long overdue that the city of Mississauga has not been getting the coverage,” said Mayor McCallion.

“There’s wonderful things happening out here: our waterfront, our city core—we have so many things going and we don’t get the coverage.”

McCallion said the ice storm was an example of when local Mississauga residents were overlooked in favour of Toronto-specific stories on the news.

“We had to fight to get [stations] to cover that there were places other than Toronto—Mississauga, Markham, Vaughan and Brampton—that were affected. And we had shelters, and when the hydro was coming back on, we had to fight to get the coverage.”

While McCallion is all for more local coverage, Carleton University School of Journalism and Communication professor Dwayne Winseck said the question remains as to whether consumers and advertisers will want to pay for it.

“I can remember back in the days when cable was gaining a stronghold position within the overall media ecology, the idea was one has to ‘go local’ to survive the cable age,” said Winseck. “We’re hearing the same thing now in a much-changed environment. I think there is this great appetite for local news, local coverage—the question always comes down to: Is there sufficient interest, as well as advertising dollars and subscription payments, to match the claimed interest in local news out there to make this viable?”

Winseck added that any attempt to contribute to the number of news outlets available to Canadians “looks like a good deal.”

“I think this is something that looks like a kind of good news on the horizon thing for Canada and for Canadians against a backdrop of bad news for the last half a decade.”

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