It takes four to replace Mansbridge?

The other day, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation announced that it will take four people to replace long-time news anchor Peter Mansbridge. The question is whether the four are equal to the task?

The reality today is that the CBC is doing a far better job with its news website than anyone else and that is an edge that it should build on. In a world that is heading towards smart TVs and interactive all-day news delivery, the Corp is head and heals ahead of its commercial competition.

Bell Canada’s CTV Network might have the largest audiences today for its late-night news but anchor Lisa LaFlamme is stuck in the past style of news presentation. And while Dawna Friesen with Global might have an audience slightly ahead of the CBC, she has little room to show her strengths.

The best part of the Mansbridge shows were the panels that became staples late at night. You had to be wide awake for the At Issue panel with people such as Chantal Hébert and Andrew Coyne over the past 16 years. They are articulate, knowledgeable and well informed.

Rosemary Barton is probably the weak link in the four-part scheme but you need someone who at least knows her way around the parliament buildings to cover the Ottawa angles.

Ian Hanomansing is the smoothest-talking of the four and sharing the Toronto anchor desk with someone with the reporting experience of Adrienne Arsenault could be a good mix. Andrew Chang from Vancouver is a relatively new face to eastern viewers but we have liked what we have seen so far. Linking the country in that manner will be hard to balance but it could be the strength of the show to come.

But now that the CBC has announced its plans, you would have expected the new show to be up and running in September. No, they are waiting for November. That will give CTV two months to try to lock in its audience for its new five to seven pm local-plus-national format.

The problem with the new CTV two-hour early evening approach is that it will probably be worse than Global’s hour-and-a-half format. Both networks brazenly promote their own non-news shows as news and use repetition on news items and call it depth.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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