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CBC to restore one-hour local news shows, cancel Canada Now
CBC Television will cancel the Canada Now early evening national newscast next February and move to one-hour regional newscasts at 6 p.m. across the country.
The changes were announced to CBC staff on Thursday as part of a restructuring of the news operation at CBC that will include the introduction of “civic journalism.”
The Vancouver bureau of the public broadcaster will lead an experiment in strengthening local newscasts on both radio and TV and introducing new technologies to deliver the news.
“CBC will redefine its relationship with its audience,” said Tony Burman, editor-in-chief of CBC News.
“We want to further the local voice that we already hear on our local programs.”
CBC reduced one-hour regional supper hour programs to half an hour in 2000 to create Canada Now.
But a seven-month study of CBC’s news service across the country shows Canadians want more local content, Burman said.
Regional TV newsrooms are not being offered new resources, but will be putting together a one-hour newscast using staff they already have for their half-hour supper show and nationally produced items that cover national and international news.
Resources from the nationally televised Canada Now program, produced in Vancouver, will go toward a new pilot in “news integration,” which will combine resources to cover stories on TV, radio, the internet, wireless and other technologies.
Canada Now host Ian Hanomansing will co-anchor the hour-long show in Vancouver.
CBC bureaus across the country will be revamped following Vancouver.
“What we want to build here is the local news service of the 21st century รณ a news service designed from the beginning to run on all platforms simultaneously,” CBC Vice President of English Television Richard Stursberg said from Vancouver during the presentation.
The new integrated service is being called myCBC and will include more opportunities for viewer, reader and listener comments and for users to select the news they want.
‘Civic journalism’ to solicit public input
Vancouver will also be the first CBC news bureau to pioneer “civic journalism,” in which citizens can upload video or images of news events to the CBC.
The CBC has yet to determine how it will vet and use images and information from its viewers and listeners.
However, the BBC and CNN have already begun to experiment with this form of citizen journalism. The BBC, for example, used images forwarded by cellphone users to broadcast up-to-the-minute information of what was happening in parts of London during last year’s bombings.
Vancouver could launch new technologies in civic journalism as early as April 2007, with a formal launch planned for September. They will be introduced across the country after being tested on the West Coast.
CBC will spend another $1.5 million on new training and $3-4 million on developing new platforms, Stursberg said, but no other resources have yet been allocated for the restructuring.
CBC eventually plans to have a single news operation in each region for radio, TV and online.
This should help create distinct voices for each region, similar to the distinct formats used on local radio programs, said Jane Chalmers, vice-president of English radio.
“Communities across Canada are all distinct. We want a broader range of perspective between newscasts in different regions,” she said.