Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Local TV News re-Emerging?

For decades it has been believed that local TV news anchors a station in a community and plays a major role in building audiences for other programs in the schedule.  In an earlier post we saw that CBC TV local news in the winter of 2011-12 seemed to have turned a corner of sorts.  CBC TV local news scored its best results in a decade, with about 1 in 5 Canadians saying it has the best local news.  Support had shrunk to less than 1 in 10 under the guidance of the last management team.  Still well back of CTV but the gap between the two has shrunk considerably.

In 2011 CTV was the clear leader in local news, chosen by some 35% as having the best local news programming (see chart). CBC was second with 21%, as mentioned its best year in the last decade, while Global had 18% support.  CITY TV, which is not available to the entire country like CBC or CTV, had only 6% support, as did CTV Two.  Whether it is a combination of broadcasters like CTV reducing its local news or CBC improving its local coverage, the result is a positive one for CBC TV.

One important factor is that CBC has had access to the CRTC LPIF fund the past two years.  LPIF accounted for some $40 million in funding for CBC in 2011 and Mother Corp seems to be using it with good effect.  The chart below shows that CBC's local news actually lead CTV in 2011 in several important population groups.  CBC TV was a big winner in homes that depend on over-the-air TV reception with more than 50% choosing CBC as having the best local news, crushing CTV and Global in this group.  CBC local news also leads CTV among CBC radio listeners, cbc.ca users and Netflix subscribers.  CBC, tellingly, does better among males than females.  Facebook and Twitter users are average in their support for CBC.  Twitter users, perhaps because the sample is quite small and so results should be taken with a grain of salt, have an unusual affinity for CITY TV local news.

The Media Trends Survey has been conducted for ten consecutive years and has surveyed over 15,000 Canadians in total in this period. It is the only survey to have measured media use and attitudes continuously over this decade. The Media Trends Survey is not sponsored by any one industry or affiliated with a media company.  Therefore, the surveys are scrupulously designed not to bias respondents into favouring one medium or media outlet over another.

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