Save our local TV or at least create something new

With the demise of our local TV station set for August 31 and with rumors that the last show will broadcast on August 28 maybe there should be some planning for a new station in Red Deer. So far I haven’t heard much from our community on this but I do hear lots from Victoria B.C. concerning their station CHEK which is suffering the same fate as our local station CHCA. Why is that?

In reading through the comments on Facebook and Red Deer Advocate online there appears to be a common thread – lamenting and reminiscing about the good ol’ days. People are remembering the great local coverage of our community that RDTV provided before they were swallowed up and spit out by Canwest Global. No one talks about last weeks E! shows. We remember those great shows such as Toon Crew because they were about us and our local community. Local content was were the value was then and is now. Local, Local, Local.

If you want to know what’s going on in the world at large, watch CBC or CNN. Now where do we go to find out about last weeks basketball game at the local college or what’s happening with local businesses or the arts and culture scene in Central Alberta? Calgary or Edmonton stations? I doubt it. The only time we’ll see Red Deer on these stations is when there’s a crash on the highway. If it bleeds it leads! Or we’ll be featured in one of those quaint pieces on small towns in Alberta, “Red Deer, a small town on the highway between Calgary and Edmonton. Eat here and get gas on your way to somewhere important!”.

  • With a population of 83,000 people in Red Deer and almost 270,000 people in Central Alberta I find it hard to grasp the fact that we can’t support a local TV station. CHEK in Victoria B.C. may survive, even with competition from other stations in their immediate local area as well as a narrow audience/market demographic.
  • Local people want to watch local news and events on TV. Local businesses need to advertise to the local market. Local people need jobs.
  • CHCA TV is fading to black because of mis-mangement from absentee corporate owners – not from lack of interest in local news from the Central Alberta community. We didn’t lose our station – it was taken away from us by people who don’t live in our community. It’s up to us to bring it back.
  • Where are our local business leaders on this issue? Instead of waiting for the next oil boom, let’s get off our butts and invest in our local community. So many people are lamenting the loss of the station but so far I haven’t seen or heard of anyone stepping up, individually or as a group, to bring TV back to Red Deer. Is this something that the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce along with the regional chambers should get behind and promote?
  • Just like they did at CHEK, Canwest Global gutted our local station and eliminated any assets of value. The talented people at the station were reduced from over 100 to just 13. Many of the business and creative units were eliminated or moved to Calgary. Much of the technology was reduced to what was minimally required. No wonder they couldn’t find a buyer – the price was probably too high for the value of what was left of the station.
  • In April 2009, SHAW bought three small stations from CTV for $1 – one Canadian loonie, but backed out when they discovered the stations weren’t worth it. They had been depleted of assets as well and really didn’t amount to much. Not even one dollar.
  • It’s been predicted that the profitable and successful future for online news will be a convergence of all media – TV, radio, papers, magazines – into a single web site. Our local newspaper – Red Deer Advocate – is now providing video on a regular basis. Wouldn’t it be great if Red Deer becomes a world leader in online news publication?
  • Instead of a terrestrial broadcast TV station, let’s take a good look at developing a webbased TV channel. The original CHCA station was started by Fred Bartley in 1957 for $ 250,000 (1957 $’s). For a million 2009 dollars we could start up a serious web based multimedia station.

This is my last rant on the sad state of local TV . . . now onto other windmills!

Dean

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