Friday, February 12, 2016 4:43:42 EST PM
Just as daily newspapers are facing unprecedented challenges posed by the Internet, mobile devices and changing consumer demand, so too Canadian broadcasters are facing pressures to reinvent themselves and brace for a future that looks very different from the past.
Underlying all of it is a growing insistence by news, information and entertainment audiences that they be in charge of their listening and viewing habits, not the broadcasters.
Just as we’ve come to expect print-oriented newsrooms to update their websites hourly with the latest information, rather than our having to wait until tomorrow morning for the next edition, so too broadcasters are struggling to adjust.
Today’s news and information consumers aren’t inclined to wait until the top of the hour for their news fix via a radio or TV newscast. (In fact, for a younger demographic accustomed to digital displays, the “top of the clock” is a bewildering phrase devoid of meaning.)
National newscasts are available online for viewing or listening on demand. Many talk shows, sitcoms, documentaries and dramas can be streamed according to the viewer’s or listener’s schedule, not that of the network. And subscription services such as Netflix are further disrupting traditional broadcasting models and further fragmenting audiences.
A report prepared by Nordicity for the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, published last November, estimated that “on the order of 50 per cent of Canada’s small and medium market stations could close by 2020.” The country’s 56 small- and medium-market TV stations, it added, “are at great risk.” That includes London.