Save CHCH: Is This Where TV is Heading?

Will going local save television? It has worked on radio, where local clothing store ads from “the heart of Greektown” seem to run on Toronto’s The Fan and AM640 every eight minutes. Moses Znaimer’s philosophy, when City-TV was his playpen, was it was all about what was happening on your street. Maybe Moses was on to something all along.
Which brings me to Donna Skelly and her fight to keep CHCH on the air, in Hamilton and all about local news. Skelly co-hosts ‘Ch’s Live @ 5:30, where she spars daily with Mark Hebscher over the issues of the day. It is a show I’ve had the pleasure to be a guest on many time over the past few years.
Producer Lawrence Diskin picks a topic, guests with opposing views are wrangled and everybody lets it rip for five minutes. The discussion is about something people are talking about that day. The show is a lean little operation, draws a pretty consistent audience and is a pretty good indication that Skelly’s plan to scale back a TV station to a community level can work.
I’ve written about Skelly’s plan for CHCH in Sunday’s Toronto Star. You can read the full story here. Have to say I admire here spunk. She’s putting it all on the line to keep the station in Steeltown. There apparently is some genuine interest in the station from an outside source, and the word I’m hearing is that it’s not one of the usual media suspects. Hopefully, whoever shows up with have deep enough pockets and will also have to courage and vision to go with the community first plan.
Over the past two or three decades, the further the various owners moved away from the Hamilton plan, the more they ruined the station. The ONtv thing was just lame, nobody ever considered it Ontario’s station. Canwest thought importing E!’s C-List celebrity content and slapping into the sister stations would be the big fix for audiences and advertisers but, hell, we were already sick and tired of all that red carpet crap from 5 to 8 every damn night on 15 other stations. And none of it was about Hamilton anymore. Hell, it wasn’t even about Ontario or even Canada.
There’s a “Save CHCH” Facebook group to join, check ot out here. That’s where you’ll also find information about a rally down at the station on Jackson Street Tuesday at 5. Celebrate St. Patty’s Day with Skelly and Company.

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