The New VI ages up
Vancouver: The New VI is looking a lot like the old CH. CHUM's struggling Victoria station has recently hired three senior journalists from the market-leading CH Victoria, owned by CanWest MediaWorks, and is now shooting for an older audience.
Vancouver: The New VI is looking a lot like the old CH. CHUM’s struggling Victoria station has recently hired three senior journalists from the market-leading CH Victoria, owned by CanWest MediaWorks, and is now shooting for an older audience.
The New VI is greying from its original 18-34 demographic in favor of 25-45s, a move the station hopes will attract more advertisers and viewers. ‘It was necessary to move the station in a radically different direction,’ says station manager Richard Gray, adding that the three-year-old outfit was underperforming significantly and hadn’t connected with its target audience. The New VI has been a distant fourth in the Victoria market, says Gray, behind CH, Global TV (BCTV) and CTV.
The new strategy is to rebuild the station around a stronger local news operation, Gray explains. ‘Typically, our approach to launching new shows has been to stay true in the short term to the fundamental principals of the Citytv of the 1970s,’ says Gray. ‘The bigger part of the process [is] to evolve, reflecting the community we are in.’
Newly hired news director and anchor Hudson Mack began on-the-air duties Oct. 12. Twice named ‘Most Popular Victoria Television Personality’ in TV Week Magazine polls, Mack worked for CH for 19 years. Four-year CH veteran Moira McLean is now The New VI’s B.C. legislature reporter, and Meribeth Burton is senior news reporter and backup anchor.
Brad Phillips, VP of CHUM Television in B.C., predicts that The New VI will continue to lose money for several more years. He admits that The New VI’s original approach might have been ‘too far out’ for the local market, but says the new New VI will still be an alternative. ‘There’s an energy at the station that doesn’t feel like anything else [in the market]. But it needs to be done in a way that appeals to a wide spectrum of audience – one that appreciates a tone that is slightly more conservative.’
‘The changes are going to make us more watchable,’ he says.
Losing three senior news people in a matter of weeks is unusual, admits CH news director Rob Germain, but says it also gives CH an opportunity to reinvent its own product. Going after CH staff is an admission that CH is ‘doing things right,’ he adds. CH is aggressively advertising its new cohosts, Sophie Lui and Ed Watson, through its CanWest MediaWorks partners such as local daily the Victoria Times-Colonist.
Courtesy our sister publication Playback, November 8