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December 31, 2015 10:50 am  #1

The Top 10 Local Broadcasting Stories of 2015

It was another not-so-great year for those in the biz, with more layoffs, uncertainty for the lucky ones who didn’t suffer that fate and a feeling that the changes in an already unstable industry are just beginning. Here are a few picks for 2015’s most memorable radio and TV stories. Most are strictly from memory, so don’t attack if I left out something important.
1) Bell Media Cuts
In an era when so many are already on the street, these cuts are the deepest. Some 380 people across the country – including some prominent names like Mike Toth, Suneel Joshi, Dan Matheson, Bill Hutchison and more - all gone in a single day. Nasty and ruthless, but the company – which nonetheless made a nice profit this year - insists it was necessary.
2) No News Not Good News At CHCH
The all news wheel goes flat, resulting in more than 130 job losses at bankrupt Channel Zero’s Hamilton TV station, just two weeks before Christmas. But did they go for broke or are they just trying to break the union?
3) Goodbye Oldies 1150s
After years as an oldies station, Bell Media switches CKOC to all sports on Labour Day, as a sister station to TSN 1050 in Toronto. The ratings touch down even further.
4) Leslie Roberts Resigns As Global’s Main Anchor In Conflict Of Interest
Canada’s version of NBC’s Brian Williams began last January with a Toronto Star investigation into the Global anchor bringing clients of his own PR firm onto the station’s newscasts, usually with glowing and positive coverage, without revealing his ties to them. It started with a suspension but the veteran newsman could read the tea leaves and resigned that same month.
5) AM740 Threatens To Go Dark Unless Given FM Repeater
In a filing with the CRTC, Moses Znaimer threatens to shut down AM740 if demands for an FM repeater aren’t granted to deal with electrical signal loss in the downtown core. At a hearing, the Commission gives Znaimer what he wants and “96.7 FM in Downtown Toronto” gets a test signal out by late August.
6) CRTC Unveils Pick And Pay Scheme for 2016
In mid-March, the CRTC finally outlined what had long been rumoured – pick and pay bundles would be coming to Canadian cable and satellite TV in 2016, along with a skinny basic package offered at around $25. Whether any of this will actually succeed in lowering your cable bills from the greedy maws of Ma Bell, Rogers or Shaw remains to be seen.
7) Shauna Hunt Strikes Back
City TV’s Shauna Hunt struck a blow for women reporters everywhere when she stood up to an idiot espousing the “FHRITP” stupidity. The footage was broadcast around the world and a clod who supported the nonsense was temporarily fired for his on-air defence of the practice.
8) Evan Solomon Fired From CBC
Another CBC host bites the dust, after it’s revealed he had a role in some art sales to wealthy Canadians he dealt with in his job. A new black eye for the Corp., still reeling from the Jian Ghomeshi mess that came to light the year before.
9) Emergency Alert System Goes Into Effect
It’s been pretty sloppy, but the emergency alert system went into effect in April, completely cutting off audio (and video on TV) for emergency announcements. So far, there have been more tests than actual emergencies, but most hosts appear to have been caught unawares of just when those dry runs would actually air, interrupting then rejoining them in mid-sentence 30 seconds later.
10) Q107 Cuts Four Big Names
The biggest is afternoon driver and rocker Kim Mitchell, who’d been with the station since 2004. Jeff Woods, Nails Mahoney and Dominik Diamond were also turfed that same week.
Honourable Mentions
Aboriginal Voices Gets Licence Pulled – But Stays On Air
The number of violations the CRTC accused them of was breathtaking and the commission eventually pulled their licence, ordering them off the air by late July. But a court challenge stayed that, and they remain on 106.5 in Toronto for now.
Art Bell Returns To The Airwaves, Then Leaves Again
This makes the local list only because CFRB was airing it. He came back from the desert at the stroke of midnight July 21st and promptly departed again – supposedly over death threats and random gunshots fired at his Nevada studio home – less than five months later. The show went on, but without its marquee attraction, the Toronto affiliate quickly dropped it.
SOWNY Back From The Dead
On May 28th, just hours after its former moderator got sick of dealing with trolls and the complaints about them, Iain Grant returned SOWNY to the web with a much more reasoned sense of discourse. As the year nears its end, The Big Yella fella is still here and appears to be going strong. Thanks, Iain!  

Last edited by RadioActive (December 31, 2015 10:58 am)


December 31, 2015 2:22 pm  #2

Re: The Top 10 Local Broadcasting Stories of 2015

By the way, has anyone else noticed the complete lack of local New Year's Eve programming on GTA TV stations this year? It's a trend that's been growing, but it's rarely been this evident.

City TV, which owned the Nathan Phillips Square bash for decades, is carrying ABC's Rockin' NYE special instead. The City Hall coverage has been gradually disappearing since Rogers took over and now it's gone completely.

Global, which used to have programming of its own on Dec. 31st, has opted instead for a showing of "Good Will Hunting."

CTV also used to have a special (I think it was from the celebrations in Niagara Falls if memory serves.) But not in 2015-2016. Bell has decided whatever viewers are still up and watching would rather see The Daily Show.

And with CHCH no longer the CHCH of old, the bankrupt Channel Zero mavens felt an hour of Bloomberg News is how some will want to ring in the New Year.

CBC English is literally that - English, with several episodes of Coronation Street taking us past midnight and beyond.

In fact, CBC's French outlet (which is really from Quebec) appears to be the only Canadian station doing anything to mark the occasion, with it's annual "Bye Bye 2015." 

That's not to say there may not be the occasional local cut-in from stations here, but it's certainly a far cry from the past, when wall-to-wall coverage of local parties was the order of the day - or in this case, night. It's a sign of both viewer erosion and tightening budgets - and quite likely a glimpse into what 2016 will continue to bring to the shrinking broadcast television industry in this city.  

     Thread Starter

December 31, 2015 5:55 pm  #3

Re: The Top 10 Local Broadcasting Stories of 2015

Not to nitpick, but I'd suggest that #10 be up there with #1.  Corus as a whole cut all over their properties, not just Q107.

As for NYE coverage, CITY dropped the ball (pun intended) on that one over the past few years and I guess Shaw just doesn't want to spend the money to pump up the concert at the falls to something worthy of being broadcast across the country.

I rather miss Dick Clark.  Even after his stroke, you just had to admire the guy's perseverance for keeping the tradition alive right to the end.

We'll probably watch the ball drop, hope it doesn't lead to something terrible down there, drink some bubbly, toast each other and the year just shot to hell, and watch a movie.

And with that, here's hoping 2016 finds everyone in a better place than when they left 2015.


December 31, 2015 7:18 pm  #4

Re: The Top 10 Local Broadcasting Stories of 2015

R.A.'s list overlooks AM  640s announcement that M. Stafford now broadcasts in HD