Canwest Global has announced that they are planning to sell or close(?) their secondary network in response to the financial pressure they are currently facing. This secondary network includes five TV stations across Canada. One of these stations is CHCA-TV, which was started up in 1957 by G. A. Fred Bartley, and is our local Red Deer station. For the twenty-five years or so that I’ve lived in the area, I’ve watched the programming go from strong local content with the likes of Ron McLean and Dianne Finstad to US produced content (the E! entertainment network) with a few hours of local news, weather and sports. We always try to tune in (channel 11 on cable) at 5:00 to catch Suzy and the gang. We don’t always make it but if they go we’ll miss them.
There are some interesting tidbits in the Canadian Press news article regarding the sale/closing of these stations . . .
Apart from the recession, Canwest and other broadcasters have seen the profitability of conventional TV stations squeezed by competition for advertisers and viewers from specialty channels and the Internet.
Analysts say the stations have been losing money for years. The question now is who will want to buy them during a recession, in which shrinking advertising revenues are already taking a chunk out of broadcaster revenues.
“I would be surprised if anyone wanted to buy them,” said the analyst.
So I got to thinking . . . wouldn’t it be great if some venture capitalists or angel investors or a local group of investors could fund the purchase of CHCA-TV and transform it into a web based, internet TV station and network. Extremely ground breaking. But why not Red Deer? With a population of over 85,000 people and a trading area (Central Alberta) reaching 300,000 in number there is audience potential. Thanks to Supernet and other broadband internet penetration initiatives there is a large market are to engage with. I think if local content – by, for and featuring the people of Central Alberta – was on local TV (terrestrial or web based) there would be an opportunity to turn things around for CHCA-TV.
We could setup a new production facility from scratch and build out a web TV operation with a credible brand, rich with history. Tom Green and Leo Laporte among others have demonstrated that a high quality web based video set-up is achievable at a fraction of what a traditional TV studio would cost. I wonder how much it would cost to purchase the call letters CHCA-TV alone? Maybe that and a million dollars a few million dollars would be all we would need.
PS: This just in . . .