Wednesday, October 14, 2009

 

POSTER CHILD FOR AN INDUSTRY

There are less than three weeks remaining before - Surely with the wisdom of Solomon - the Canadian Radio, Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) meets head-on the proponents and promoters of: "Save Local TV" and those of "Stop the TV Tax."

Canada's big entertainment providers the television broadcasters; and those who distribute their programs the cable and satellite providers, have been waging an all too public over the air battle to win our hearts and minds. One group guts local programming and threatens more cuts. Increases in the monthly bills from the other outpace rising costs and any reasonable expectations.

Regardless; and at the risk of becoming the poster child for this national malaise, any solution which the sages of the CRTC can cobble together will come too late for the now bankrupt Global Television Network who's assets will by then be portioned-off amongst the parent company's $4-billion creditors.

Even before Global's flow of red ink sank the network beyond its capacity to recover, rumours in the business were circulating as early as last spring that the network's national news anchor, Kevin Newman, was ripe for the picking. Since signing-on the early evening newscast in September 2001, its star anchor has matured into an accomplished seasoned newscaster...a far cry from his difficult American beginnings back in the mid-nineties at ABC News where he struggled with "World News Tonight" as with later on "Good Morning America."

While Mr. Newman surely ranks amongst Global's valuable assets; it stands to reason that both salary and production costs for his major national and international news package seven evenings per week are also a considerable liability for the now bankrupt network. The temptation to shop Newman's talents to rival broadcasters can't possibly have escaped those charged with making the best out of Global's tenuous future.

Neither the CBC nor CTV have vast talent pools from which to draw replacements for their own anchors. At age 76, Lloyd Robertson will have to retire some day. On the eve of its massive coverage of the winter Olympic Games from Vancouver, Kevin Newman would seem to be a perfect fit for CTV. Over at the CBC, though at age 61 Peter Mansbridge is younger than his CTV rival, he has just one more year left on his contract. The network's well documented financial problems and lacklustre ratings could crack open the door for a younger less expensive replacement with the profile of the "Global National News" high in his pedigree. After all if you believe Global's spin on ratings, though given different broadcast hours it's like comparing apples and oranges, still Kevin Newman consistently beats rivals CBC and CTV every night.

"Global National with Kevin Newman" does an admirable job with a consistently well produced newscast particularly given the network's limited resources. Global's finances are floundering and the network's trustees in bankruptcy are unlikely to pump any additional cash into the operation. The stars may have just aligned perfectly to encourage the anchor to jump ship before sailing into rougher waters. Let the bidding war begin. That is if it is not already underway.

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