I have never put much faith in the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement (BBM) ratings, especially the method whereby a random selection of individuals are given diaries and asked to write down their radio listening or television viewing habits. For the former it has been the introduction of Portable People Meters (PPMs), pager-sized devices which allows broadcast signals to be encoded with inaudible signals as they air or stream live, which seem to have added a little more reliability. We understand it is coming for TV here soon.
BBM TV ratings came out last week. For news programs it was no surprise to see the perennial champions, CTV Montreal, still way ahead of the pack for the supper hour period.Their 6 p.m. one hour newscast, with Mutsumi Takahashi and Paul Karwatsky, has always been a powerhouse with over 100,000 viewers. CBC has three separate newscasts with Debra Arbec and Andrew Chang, from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. while Global's Jamie Orchard as the anchor desk from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
In the mornings, both Global and newcomer City have breakfast shows. While the ratings show that Canada AM on CTV has the most Quebec viewers, there is definitely something to be encouraged about for the others. The Global program has been on the air for just over a year, with the trio of Camille Ross, Richard Dagenais and Jessica Laventure. City's Breakfast Television, with Alexandre Despatie, Joanne Vrakas, Catherine Verdon Diamond, Laura Casella, Wilder Weir and Elias Makos only debuted last August. Global did have a morning show a number of years ago, but essentially there is a process taking place now and that is conditioning more folks to turn on their TV's first thing in the morning.
I believe it is working. Global's numbers, while not at the level of Canada AM, have improved dramatrically while the BBM's show City closely behind them. I make it a point to watch all three: Canada AM to get a quick look at the national headlines and then Global and City to get some local flavor. To me, if you have a TV in the kitchen it is a no brainer to turn it on and get up to speed on trending news stories, weather and traffic.
When I sat down with Global station manager Karen Macdonald last summer to ask her about the incoming competition from City, she sincerely welcomed their presence. I guess she was right as her morning show's numbers did increase. So clearly what we have here is an evolving new morning show audience. Both shows are getting out to the community with live broadcasts - Laventure for Global and Weir and Casella for City - and this definitely increases awareness.
"I really do think the competition is good," Macdonald says. "There is a lot of talk in the community about morning TV. We know that it really takes a while to change the viewing habits of people."
I make sure to watch all three suppertime TV newscasts each day. While I cannot possibly watch them all live, it is wonderful to know that they are all pretty much accessible online. That folks is how TV viewing has changed in this decade.
In the case of CBC it is great to either turn the news on at 5 p.m. from the office or home and get an early peak at the developing stories. And all three also have late night newscasts.
My message to TV viewers is this: give each show your undivided attention. We are living with a Parti-Québecois government which is no friend to the anglophone community. The fact we havefour English-language TV stations bringing us live news shows is a luxury we need to encourage.