Monday, March 16, 2009

Just crazy enough to work...

The best TV writer in the country, Bill Brioux had a wrote a great piece over the weekend on the effort to save CHCH in Hamilton, whose branding has been muddied by all that E! pap.

It kind of ties in with some topics covered previously and the reason why there was a one-day lag getting into it, namely broadcast and blog commitments to Streaming Sports Network Canada at the CIS Final 8 here in Ottawa. This kind of jumped out:
"CHCH's Live@5:30 co-host Donna Skelly – one of the few local personalities left – thinks it's time the community stood up and took back their station. She is spearheading a group that is hoping to buy back CHCH and return it to its roots while at the same time.

" 'We are going to focus on local, period,' says Skelly, taking courage from a local news commitment declared recently by the Rogers'-owned City stations. She sees opportunities, for example, to hype local sports teams on TV and then stream full games on a web platform."(Emphasis mine.)
Skelly's push to return CHCH to its roots, frankly, is awesome. The urgent feeling that if the business models don't change, then local storytelling will be imperiled, seems to be at the heart of the matter. It's the same for people who work in print, it's the same for at the local affiliates across in Canada who have had to suffer because Canadian private networks, according to Brioux, spent more than a half-billion dollars last year importing U.S. comedies and dramas everyone can see already on American stations. (Seriously, who cares if you watch 30 Rock on Citytv or NBC?)

Anyone interested in this probably should peruse this post from Clay Shirky gradual disappearance of newspapers before going any farther.
"When someone demands to know how we are going to replace newspapers, they are really demanding to be told that we are not living through a revolution. They are demanding to be told that old systems won't break before new systems are in place. They are demanding to be told that ancient social bargains aren’t in peril, that core institutions will be spared, that new methods of spreading information will improve previous practice rather than upending it. They are demanding to be lied to.

"There are fewer and fewer people who can convincingly tell such a lie."
Shirky adds, "We’re collectively living through 1500, when it’s easier to see what’s broken than what will replace it." The feeling on this end, as an eternally glass half-full guy, is that it is a positive step when you have someone who was once old media, such as Ms. Skelly, talking about streaming local teams' games on your station's website.

All the best to those trying to restore CHCH to a modicum of its bygone glory. In retrospect, those days in the 1970s and '80s when CHCH

You don't have to have grown up in the 519/905 area code to know that back in the day, CHCH was legen, wait for it, dary for its local programming. Reviving the era when a hometown TV station produced some its own shows, such as The Hilarious House of Frightenstein, Smith and Smith and The Red Green Show seems like a gilded age. It could be kitschy, cheesy, hokey (remember You Can't Do That On Television?), but in retrospect, it seems legen, wait for it, dary. It could be a real boon for sports coverage, too. At least a conversation is underway.

(By the way, you have not lived until you've watched Red Green use his lawnmover to make coffee.)

(Apologies for only getting this up this morning; needed a few hours to deglaze after commentating eight basketball games in three days. Thanks again to Bengt Neathery, Matt Copeland, Sarah Miller, Mark Masters, Chris Messina, Alison Sandor and Joe Fishman from SSN Canada for having me.)

How to save the newspaper ... (Feb. 27, 2009)

Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable (Clay Shirky)
Will townsfolk save House of Frightenstein?; Rallies for local owners start as corporate debt threatens CHCH (Bill Brioux, Toronto Star


krister said...

Ahh. university days - watching Red Green in the common room on CHCH. Those were the days!!

Tao of Stieb said...

If this initiative would mean more Donna Skelly and less Joel McHale and The Soup, then we are dead set against it.

(Of course, if the station goes dark, then that means lots of we'd accept Donna being on, even if we refuse to watch her.)