Our local TV station, CHCA-TV will go off the air on August 31, 2009. They were part of the Canwest Global E! network. Canwest claims they did everything they could to save the five stations across Canada which were targeted. Only three made the cut but ours and CHEK in Victoria, BC didn’t. Whose fault was it anyway? The CRTC for not allowing Canwest to charge carriage fees to the cable and satellite providers (BTW: our station wasn’t on satellite)? Canwest Global for not understanding (or caring about) small market TV stations? The bad economy which has forced advertisers to slash their budgets? Some or all of the above?
The sad news is that the station is closing. The sadder news is that they have been dying a slow death over the past few years. Local content has been trimmed from the line-up on a regular and steady basis. When they became an E! network station the writing was on the wall. Staff were cut (slashed) as well. In their heyday as RDTV, they employed 100 people. Now they have 13 staff. Many people, including me, were hoping for a turn around but let’s face it, the station was doomed!
So for now let’s mourn the loss of our station, the people we welcome into hour home every day to give us the news and weather and sports and the good times from the last fifty years when Red Deer had a TV station.
Maybe out of the ashes a new station will emerge. A station where you can watch local news and events from across Central Alberta. Based on comments to the Red Deer Advocate’s news article announcing the close of CHCA, a common thread was the great local content from years ago and lamenting the fact that it was missing in recent years. I learned this in Business 101 – if you want to be successful, find out what people want and give it to them. We want local content! It can’t get simpler than that. Local business needs to advertise. Maybe a smaller station will be able offer affordable rates to small business in the area leading to more advertising and then to more customers for local business.
Is broadcast the way to go? No – why try to breathe life into a corpse. It’s like opening a new Vaudeville theatre when everyone’s starting to listen to the radio. Time to move on. I’d like to see a web based local TV station. It’s financially viable and would be able to focus on local news and events in ways that traditional broadcast can’t. Local community web based TV is available else where. Not just rebroadcast of national network programs but true local community based content.
When Fred Bartley (sorry for the mis-spelling in the origianl post) started CHCA-TV back in 1957, I wonder how many people laughed at him and ridiculed the idea. Mr. Bartley had the vision to bring this television thing to Central Alberta and make it a success. What we need now is another visionary to bring web TV to the region.