Shaw to close three community TV stations, 70 jobs affected

A new funding model will see Shaw reallocate $10 million annually to Global News to support local news coverage in Western Canada.

Shaw Communications has announced it is closing its community news stations in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. Approximately 70 positions will be affected.

The company is redirecting $10 million from those stations to Corus Entertainment to support its local news coverage in the impacted cities, a move made possible by the CRTC’s community TV policy. The updated policy allows vertically integrated companies (and affiliated BDUs, like Shaw and Corus, which share a common controlling shareholder) to reallocate funds devoted to community programming to the production of local news.

The re-directing of funds will result in the closure of those Shaw community stations effective August 15. A release from Corus said the move will reduce duplication of coverage.

Troy Reeb, SVP, Global News with Corus Radio and station operations, told MiC the restructuring addresses a reality in which “the audience for traditional community TV has largely moved to on-demand YouTube-type platforms.”

The new funding from Shaw will go toward the establishment of city hall bureaus and municipal affairs specialists on staff to cover civic election coverage and community news. Reporters will also be assigned to work with local groups on community events, and more broadcasts will be recorded in the field in local communities. Global News will also add to its coverage of  university, college and community sports in Western Canada.

Global also says the funding will allow it to expand its digital live-streaming platform, Global News Live, to include more local digital content. That platform, Reeb said, is particularly important for the company. It was established last year and is still in beta, but Reeb said it is a key tool in driving viewers to Global’s online properties.

“We think this actually provides a new way into consumption for people who want to have an on-demand experience online or on mobile,” he said.

As for the development of local content from Global News, Reeb could not say for sure if any new positions would be created. “We’re certainly taking a look at [hiring], but whether there’s a significant number of additional positions or just replacing positions that would have been threatened by shifts of ad dollars out of the [TV] sector, that remains to be decided.”

Shaw TV will continue to air local content in more than 180 small and medium-sized markets across Canada including in Thunder Bay, Ont., Winnipeg, Man., and Nanaimo and Kelowna, B.C. Local access content will be developed through volunteer programs in remaining community stations.

Earlier this year, Rogers Media also closed one local station (North York) as the result of the same CRTC decision, resulting in the layoffs of 10 employees.