Another year-end blast of best and worst for 2009, this time out of Hamilton via CHCH's Live @ 5:30. Tune in Tuesday, Dec. 29 as Mark Hebscher and Donna Skelly quiz me on the hit and misses for the year.
One of the most positive stories of all in 2009 was the acquisition of 'CH by Channel Zero, who snatched it away from Canwest Global for twelve measly bucks. Channel Zero dumped all the pricey U.S. programs that used to fester on Canwest's ill advised E! channel in Hamilton and returned the focus to the community, beefing up local news coverage. The move has paid off, with 'CH battling the big networks in the ratings for GTA viewers. many nights, the little Hamilton station ranks second in supper hour news across the GTA, behind only long dominant CTV and ahead of Global, City and CBC. It is an incredible feat, a real David vs. Goliath accomplishment. Here's how the 6 p.m. local news numbers have played out over two recent days (BBM Canada overnight estimates of total viewers):
Mon., Dec. 21: CTV: 349,000. Global: 181,000. CHCH: 143,000. CITY: 129,000. CBC: 41,000.
Tues., Dec. 22: CTV: 343,000. CITY: 193,000. CHCH: 153,000. Global 96,000. CBC: 63,000.
Both nights 'CH was a strong third.
The station, as viewers have surely noticed, is also home to too many Slap-Chop and other infomercial ads. Canwest did Channel Zero a disservice by not selling ads this fall and winter, leaving the new owners with a lot of grab-whatever-you-can ad space to fill. The ads are starting to look more legit during the newscast and they should given the show's strong ratings.
Live @ 5:30 is a little miracle in itself. In its seventh season, the newsmagazine has offered its community an editorial page responsiveness lacking elsewhere across the GTA. Mark and Donna and producer Lawrence Diskin take two or three issues a day and kick them all over the screen, inviting guests and experts on, often to give opposing views. Even viewers get to weigh in toward the end of each show. It's fun and punchy and about as unfiltered as you can get on local TV news today.
So when you see those ads stating, "Local TV Matters," think CHCH, where it is more than a cynical lobbying campaign, it is a fact of life.