There was much to cover on this week’s radio chat with CHML’s Scott Thompson. Among the topics was the job slashing this week carried out at Bell Media. The axe swung in several newsrooms, with long-time CTV News Network veteran Dan Matheson among the victims.
A couple of times in recent years I’ve driven out to CTV’s Agincourt news bunker when called upon to yak about TV opposite Matheson. I was astonished at how bare bones the operation had become. There was a robot camera and a kid with a lap top cuing up segments and Dan. An unflappable Toronto news presence for years, he brought a lot of credibility to that news channel. It would seem to me that when you take away the one surviving on-camera pro, well, you might as well turn out the lights.
It has been, to say the least, an unsettling year in the Canadian TV business and it has started at the top. Top executives at Bell/CTV, Rogers/City and CBC have walked or have been bounced. Phil King, CTV’s top show fetcher, was one of the first to go in this current wave of job cuts. King stuffed his schedules with shiny new U.S. imports in May, did the dog-and-pony act for advertisers in June and was history by August–before the season had started. That’s like firing the coach during the pre-season.
CBC’s CBO Neil McEneaney just bolted to Numeris after a reported incident at a meeting between he and English Canada network boss Heather Conway. Early reports, since denied, suggested McEneaney took a sexual harassment complaint to CBC president Hubert Lacroix. This following Ghomeshi and Solomon and Lang? Could they maybe please try to get some of this compelling, board room intrigue onto their schedule? Empire hasn’t been this over-the-top messed-up this season!
Rogers top man Keith Pelley made a much quieter exit in June, flying off to head the European golf tour. You might say he was playing out of the rough.
Scott wonders what it all means. I think it means something when the folks at the top are going first.
Scott started off our weekly chat by asking about shows affected by the terrorist attacks in Paris. CBS swapped out episodes of Supergirl and NCSI Los Angeles due to bomb blast storylines. After 9/11, shows such as 24 also ran into sensitivity problems. Networks that jam their schedules with shows dealing with murder and terrorism are going to run into this in today’s crazy world.
We talk about Stephen Colbert’s salute to Paris on Monday’s CBS Late Show. I was in New York in the studio audience for that one and tell Scott the fireworks between Colbert and Bill Maher were real and palatable.
Scott also asks about the switcheroo NBC pulled on their mural inside 30 Rock. More on that here in a previous post. We also talk about Charlie Sheen going on Today to make his HIV revelation. The appearance, so close to the Paris attacks, just seemed so not “winning.”
We prattle on for 17 minutes. You can listen in here.