Thursday, 11 September 2014

Hey Bell Media: I've got news. Local is dead .





Bell Media was hoping to scare consumers yesterday, with its pronouncement that local programming could disappear without us paying for it through some sort of subscription plan.
Its head honcho suggested that Bell, Rogers and Shaw will have to find other revenue streams to keep local fare alive; otherwise the local news will be on the chopping block.
Perhaps.
But would we really miss it?
Anyone who watches the current local shows knows they are already on live support. Our local CTV affiliate in Ottawa has all but stopped doing remote satellite feeds that once made the audience feel like they were part of the action. Even the host of its once lovely little program Regional Contact has had to resort to covering only stories that are bussable.
CTV Ottawa's noon hour program has been turned into a repeater for news from the night before, and its local segments are nothing more than infomercials for local restaurants and stores. I saw a story last week about a local eatery commenting on the possibility of the city posting health grades. The next day, that same eatery became a half hour segment on the noon news about its great new burgers.
I mean, why tie up two crews when one will do?
Oh well. Guess there's no real local news happening save traffic accidents, already doused fires with uninsured tenants milling about, feeble feeds from the network on international and national news, and weather and sports.
Did ya miss it?
No worries, just go to the website. The same drivel is repeated there like the pickles on those burgers from the local eateries.
I watch it, I can't lie, because I'm sitting around the house answering employment ads while waiting for Candy Crush Saga to let me move to the next level.
If I want real news, I go to Twitter where I can find out what's really happening in my community and in the world.
What's on the local news isn't really news anyway. I could do without the infomercials for Bell services on CTV Ottawa, I could live without seeing dog abuse videos and I could certainly go to sleep at night without worrying about Terry Marcotte's golf game.
Oh yes, and I forgot to mention the constant web videos that they use for filler in between the infomercials. Every television news program -- including Canada AM -- has discovered it can fill precious minutes in newscasts with "what I learned on Twitter" and "what I saw on YouTube".
Fact is, I don't need to watch these during the news.
I can watch them myself on my Smartphone while sitting on the stupid bus or waiting in line for Starbucks. Pretty soon, I can watch them on my iWatch!
It would be one thing if the local news show actually showed video that it paid a reporter and cameraperson to go out and shoot. More and more, local shows prefer to have their reporters standing on the other side of the newsroom telling the story to camera. Or worse, the reporters stand outside the door in front of the newsroom.
Even poor JJ Clarke can hardly get out of the office anymore -- outside -- where weather is actually happening! (Sometimes, they throw him a bone and let him stand on the balcony, which even a poor apartment rat could do on her own.)
The key problem for Bell Media and the others is that nobody wants to advertise on these shows, and advertising used to be the life blood for local programming. The advertising dollar now has to be spread between radio stations and the Internet, on the cheap, and the television stations on the rich.
Also, the local commercials are vile.
They use heavily accented French Canadians to advertise "the buffet de something or other" on "le boulevard de something or other". They even use visual images that have French signs.
These horrendous ads are speckled between spots with the half made bed Trivago guy, reverse mortgages and car commercials. Even the Oprah Winfrey Network has better ads!
And let's face it, we all tape the damned news anyway while we're making dinner, or drinking then fast forward through the stupid parts. (You're never too young, Terry Marcotte's golf game and the YouTube videos you've already seen, plus commercials.)
Hate to say it, Bell, but local is doomed anyway.
It's done.
Stick a fork in it.
Give me Netflix (US) and HBO (not Canada).
Or give me brain death.
I hereby turn in my Canadian content card.

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