BCTV has remained a powerhouse brand through the 1970s and beyond
"Ak! They're using our old logo!" someone might be saying over at GlobalTV BC. But they needn't worry about any brand confusion. The fact is that the powerhouse news operation residing on cable channel 11 (and now 211 on some HD feeds) sits so comfortably atop the TV ratings heap that everyone knows who these guys are.
GlobalTV's "BCTV" News Hour is the envy of broadcasters from across the country. Their dinner hour newscast is the most-watched local news program in Canada, and the third highest in North America. Their ratings are estimated to be four to five times their closest competitor in this market, thanks to significant reach around British Columbia and a style that has always set them apart. Provided there is no Canucks game on, the Monday night broadcast will reach up to one quarter of BC's four million residents!
Some feared that the loss of their marquee presenters such as Tony Parsons would whittle away at their success, but it hasn't. The parent company Canwest has been struggling financially after overreaching on investments a decade ago, and even though we've heard that budgets have been tight around Global TV in general, the station keeps producing consistently high-rated and compelling broadcasts. In recent weeks Shaw Communications Inc. purchased Canwest Global's TV network and a controlling share of Canwest Global Communications Corp.
In his essay published in this weekend's Vancouver Sun, Global BC Managing Editor Clive Jackson zeroes in on the "x-factor" of his broadcast's success.
Tony became a true B.C. icon and played an important part in keeping us No. 1 in the ratings. His looks, his professionalism and that voice set a benchmark in the industry... When Tony departed, surprisingly our ratings didn’t suffer. New anchor Chris Gailus is already a proven asset to the team...
All told, we have about 20 reporters, most of whom are household names, but another 60 editors, cameramen, producers, graphic artists and writers. Over the years the cast of characters on our reporting staff have been hired for their reporting abilities not necessarily their looks. Some of them wouldn’t have blessed the front cover of GQ magazine. Aggressive, brash and cheeky, you’ll remember some of their names: John Gibbs, Pamela Martin, Clem Chapple (sadly now dead), Mark Schneider, Mark Miller, Harvey Oberfeld, Alyn Edwards, Neale Adams, Eli Sopow, Elaine McKay, Margo Harper, Keith Baldrey, Ted Chernecki, Brian Coxford, Doriana Temolo, Deb Hope, Linda Aylesworth, Lynn Colliar, Jas Johal, Tara Nelson, Steve Wyatt, Bob Ireland, Belle Puri, Dale Hicks, Jim Hart, and, of course, the unique Mike McCardell. In many ways it is like conducting an orchestra: everyone has a unique talent suited for the wide range of stories we cover.
It amazes me that in my mind I can see every single one of those faces that Jackson names, so embedded is the work of his team. Sure, not much GQ (although I'm sure a cover awaits Gailus someday) but a lot of reliable reporting.
Regardless of your views on mainstream TV news in general, the fact is in British Columbia GlobalTV is king. If they like you it's money in the bank. If they don't then you've got your work cut out for you. The station's ratings dominance explains why, for example, BC's Premier recently gave his State of the Province address right after Global's dinner hour news.
I give them credit for a brilliant strategy during Vancouver's 2010 Games, and taking a risk on a somewhat unknown pair of bloggers. Of course, broadcast rights for events like the Olympics are extremely expensive. The broadcaster chosen to cover the Games ended up not being Global TV, which gave BCTV no access to footage of sporting events and kept them outside of the international media centre at the new Vancouver Convention Centre.
The station might have been stuck on the sidelines, and losing audiences to their competitors. What they quickly realized is that the real attraction of Vancouver's 2010 experience was not really on the slopes or in the rinks, but on the streets of our city. They had a broadcast location arranged on the Concord Pacific property, and proceeded to focus on the fun at the free venues that were attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors, and millions of viewers on TV.
We had begun our 2010 Where 2 Be for Free guide, and Global asked if they could partner with us on reports on where the free fun could be had. We did reports with Global's Linda Aylesworth where our guide was mentioned. Our traffic went off the charts – peaking out at 140,000 page views per day – and temporarily crashing our site.
I think our collaboration (as well as several plugs by CKNW and other MSM sources) was one of the ultimate reasons why Metro Vancouver had the most successful Winter Games in history. We showed the way to enjoy the fun on a limited budget. People who otherwise felt that they would be stuck at home, got off the couch and got onto Skytrain because they wanted to be a part of the Games experience.
During those weeks I got to work with Linda, and with Brian Coxford, John Daly, Ron Bencze, Robin Stickley, Darlene Heidemann, Marisa Thomas, Rumina Daya, Sophie Lui, and wrapping up with Steve Darling and Lynn Colliar in studio. And of course we were always working with Clive and Oliver Lum.
Daniel and I took time away from family and work to do the 2010 Free guide reporting. We drove thousands to venues that the public didn't know about and in the end it was only GlobalTV who acknowledged our efforts by inviting us to their morning broadcast. For that we are grateful.
I've had the occasion also to be a part of reports with Ted Field, Aaron McArthur, Ted Chernecki, Tanya Beja and Jane Carrigan, along with several of their camera operators who with the editors and writers really make Global BC's work shine. Every single one of these folks were incredibly generous and professional, which leads me to conclude that what makes the station click with audiences is their people.
When we watch Gailus, Deb Hope, Squire Barnes, the always polished Wayne Cox, Mark Madryga, Kristi Gordon, Randene Neill and all the others on the weekend and late night shows, we can't help but feel that these guys are really enjoying their jobs.
In the end I think that's why we watch GlobalTV BC the most. Happy 50th, BCTV!
- post by Mike