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September 4, 2022 10:13 am  #1

Why Those "Private Broadcaster" Ads Ring Hollow

You've probably heard them by now - those ads asking "what we would do without private broadcasters?"  One of them aired on Sunday morning and it suddenly occurred to me that there's a certain hypocrisy to the campaign. 

Take the stations I listen to a lot - CFRB and CFIQ aka AM 640. 

In the case of 1010, they have live and thus local programming from 5 AM-12 PM and again from 2 PM-7 PM weekdays. (Evan Solomon is nationwide from noon-2 o'clock.) The rest is either rerolls (sorry, but there's no way CFRA or CJAD's morning show repeats at night count as "local") or network material, like the cross country overnight program. If you accept that premise and do the math, it means CFRB is a "local" broadcaster only 12 hours a day, with the other dozen going to programming that isn't local at all. 

640 has similar issues. Their morning show starts at 5:30 AM and they come out slightly better, with local shows airing until 10 PM. (The On Point 6:30 PM show is more Toronto oriented than anything, so even though it airs on CHML and CFPL, I'm counting it as local content.) After 10, Corus national programming kicks in for the rest of the broadcast day. That's 7 and a half hours when they turn their station over to a non-Toronto specific network. 

Even CityNews, which you would think has to be local all the time, doesn't escape the math. Its overnights are filled with at least five hours of national news out of Vancouver, and outside of very brief traffic and weather cut-ins, it rarely features a lot of local GTA stories. That's 25 hours of mostly non-local content on weekdays.

I get it - it's all about economics and saving money in lower listening dayparts. But when the stations constantly run ads asking, "where would we be without local broadcasters?" my answer is we already know. Which sort of makes the messaging a bit moot, if not slightly hypocritical.