News overhaul at CBC

The CBC on Wednesday rolled out plans for a multi-platform, 24/7 news assignment and delivery strategy...

The CBC on Wednesday rolled out plans for a multi-platform, 24/7 news assignment and delivery strategy that senior executives insist is more suited to how Canadians consume digital content.

Jennifer McGuire, interim CBC News publisher, told staff at an internal meeting that the pubcaster, as part of its ongoing integration of core TV, radio and online news-gathering operations, will develop an ‘info-now’ approach to news delivery to meet a growing audience appetite for breaking news.

To create a multi-platform newsroom that gets news out in minutes rather than hours to younger consumers, CBC Newsworld and CBC.ca will jump to the front of the line in terms of how network news-gathers feed the beast.

‘People don’t get their news first at 10 p.m. anymore,’ McGuire said in reference to The National. The CBC’s flagship news and current affairs show from fall 2009 will go to a seven-day format. That will mean the end of the CBC News’ Saturday Report and Sunday Report newscasts.

‘At the end of the day, it came down to what we have to do, and we have to do 24/7. That’s a basic expectation the audience has for us,’ McGuire said of the decision to run The National all week.

The CBC also plans an on-demand 10-minute version of The National to be made available online before the nightly TV broadcast. The strategy here, as elsewhere in the CBC’s renewal project, is to push TV shows to the Internet, and deliver branded news content to digital devices like mobile phones and PDAs.

The CBC News overhaul will also see the popular morning radio show World Report bolstered, in profile and manpower, to launch a daily news agenda for all CBC platforms.

As CBC executives told it, a new 10-minute World Report program will ‘frame forward’ as it launches a daily news agenda for CBC News across all platforms.

In addition, local CBC radio programs will follow World Report with local news, weather and other information as part of a ’10 on 10′ format.

Also central to the CBC’s digital renewal strategy is CBC Newsworld, which from fall 2009 will go to a seven-day schedule for a continuous news setup.

Programming-wise, the cable channel will focus on breaking news and live events during the day, and move to a more ‘personality-driven’ debate and opinion talk format at night.

Speed will be crucial to next-generation CBC news-gathering, as CBC Newsworld, for example, will not wait for the definitive word on unfolding events before it goes to air with news. Instead, cable channel hosts will tell viewers what the news channel knows, and how it knows that information as events unfold.

To ensure better coordination between CBC TV, radio and online news-gathering teams in the future, they will soon start to work in closer proximity, and the network will introduce a single assignment desk for all three disciplines to direct stories to the most appropriate platform.

Also key to the CBC News renewal is a focus on local news. With CTV’s CP24 in mind, CBC Newsworld is experimenting with a new format that scrolls local weather, news and other survival information at the bottom and side of the screen.

McGuire said CBC.ca will also give a local push for the CBC as it looks to get closer to, and engages with Canadians.

‘We see the digital space as the complete CBC News brand experience. It’s about depth, and it’s about now,’ she told CBC employees.