Breakfast TV on City TV Winnipeg was the first to really do local content on early morning TV in Winnipeg. They had the market to themselves. CBC, CTV and Global were all latecomers to the game.
The first version of the show was called The Big Breakfast and started on the old A Channel way back in 1997 and featured Jimmy Mac and Jon Ljungberg. The Craig family-owned stations mimicked Toronto’s CityTV program The Big Breakfast started back in 1989.
CityTV used to be a very cutting edge television enterprise and Winnipeg’s A-Channel used quite a lot of their programming to fill their Canadian content regulations. However, for their local broadcasts, they had The Big Breakfast which did very well and seemed to not attract any notice from the big players in the market.
For years CKY was content to play Canada AM from Toronto in the Winnipeg market. The ratings were probably sufficient to justify it. CBC also used Newsworld programming in the early hours.
In 2004, the Craig family sold their interests in A-Chanel to CityTV and The Big Breakfast was replaced with Breakfast Television in 2005. Not much really changed as the format was pretty much identical. Aside from hosting changes, BT had the local market to themselves.
However, in 2011 and 2012 CTV and Global Television entered the local breakfast television market and it appears the first one to blink was CityTV’s Breakfast Television.
This week 14 or the 25 staff were given the axe and 11 were assigned to a new radio and TV format hosted by 92 CITI FM star Wheeler and his co-hosts Phil Aubrey and Rena Jae. Two CityTV hosts Drew Kozub and Jenna Khan have survived the cut and will join the new 6 to 9 program.
It is hard to know how this program will look and feel. It will be shot in the studios of CityTV at The Forks. The understanding is that when music is played for the radio show, the cut away will be to the CityTV hosts. If this sounds confusing them you’re not alone.
CBC Manitoba will also be doing a radio and TV hybrid where their morning radio hosts will be seen on TV. This is more akin to what we saw with Q, the big CBC radio product formerly hosted by Jian Ghomeshi. The show was routinely broadcast for television as well as radio.
The big difference for CBC’s entry into the market is that it really is just a radio show being televised.
It is very difficult to know what this new radio and television concept will look like for CityTV. However, it is obvious that it has fewer staff, it won’t be doing any location work and probably will conduct less community content.
My big question is for 92 CITI is: what do you get out of this? The Wheeler show is one of the top rated radio programs in Winnipeg. Will this help or hinder your status as being on top.
My big question for CityTV is: Are your costs that much higher that you have to dump so many staff from one of your marquee local programs? Is Rogers looking to get every dollar they can from committing to $5 billion for NHL hockey?
I guess we will also see next week how this plays out.
This has been a guest editorial by John Dobbin.
To read more from John, visit his blog Observations, Reservations, Conversations