The CBC and Hamilton

The need for the CBC in Hamilton is an issue about a lack of local broadcast media diversity.

By Sonja Macdonald and Paul Shaker
Published March 14, 2005

Late last year, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the federal agency responsible for regulating Canada's broadcasting and telecommunications systems, brought down a ruling that could have a significant impact on the Hamilton region.

The Commission ruled that a Toronto television station, Toronto 1, whose mandate and broadcast area included Hamilton, would have to provide locally-focussed content to this city. Prior to this ruling, Hamilton was totally ignored by the Toronto-focussed station. The station owners had argued that this community was served by local Toronto news and programming simply because of Hamilton's proximity to Toronto.

This is clearly a ridiculous assumption but this line of thinking has been one of the central reasons why Hamilton is underserved in terms of local media. All of the Toronto-focussed television stations include the greater Hamilton area, and its 700,000+ citizens, as part of their local market for which they can sell advertising. Essentially, they profit off Hamiltonians without providing them any local service.

However, the CRTC's recent decision clearly acknowledges that Toronto 1's local programming must reflect the particular needs and interest of Hamiltonians, recognizing that those needs are not automatically the same as Toronto's. This may seem like a technicality, but this reasoning can now be applied to other broadcasters who are supposed to serve Hamilton.

Living here, it is hard to think of the mainstream press as anything more than one local major daily newspaper, one semi-local television station, and a handful of local radio stations. However, when you compare Hamilton to similarly-sized Canadian cities, such as Quebec City and Winnipeg, you gain a better appreciation of how drastically low the number of mainstream media sources is in this community.

Just looking at TV, our national counterparts have at least three times the number of television stations. Simply put, a city of Hamilton's size should have more media with a local focus that would naturally add to the quantity and quality of local debate on the variety of issues that make up life in the Hamilton region.

Just think of the number of issues that would have received more substantial coverage if there were more media to cover them: the Silverberg affair, the Mayor's illegal campaign contributions, the City's court case against the federal government, rising spending on the Red Hill Creek Expressway, budget deliberations at City Hall, and the list goes on and on.

This lack of focus and attention would certainly not happen down the road in Toronto where there has been copious coverage of everything from Toronto police chief Julien Fantino, to the computer leasing scandal at Toronto City hall, and that city's challenges with their own budget issues.

So where do we go from here? Locally, many alternative forms of media have emerged, including Raise The Hammer, CATCH or H Magazine, and they are working to provide citizens with a more complete picture of community news.

Despite their efforts though, they do not have the reach of traditional mainstream media outlets like CH, or the Hamilton Spectator and Toronto private media, whose broadcast area includes Hamilton, have to be pulled by the teeth (or directed by the CRTC) to cover important Hamilton stories.

However, the private sector is only one option for expanding mainstream media diversity in Hamilton. The CBC, Canada's public broadcaster has a mandate to serve all Canadians and all regions of the country. Yet, Hamilton is grossly underserved by the CBC. In fact, Hamilton is the largest urban region in Canada without a local CBC presence, despite the continued contribution by Hamiltonians, through their taxes, to its operating budget:

CBC/SRC Service to Cities by Population (Source: Statistics Canada, CBC.ca)
Census Metropolitan Area (CMA)2004 CMA PopulationLocal CBC/SRC Radio StationLocal CBC/SRC Television StationLocal CBC/SRC Website
Vancouver2173100CheckmarkCheckmark (Regional)Regional
Winnipeg702400CheckmarkCheckmark (Regional)Regional
Halifax379800CheckmarkCheckmark (Regional)Regional

The need for the CBC in Hamilton is not just about fulfilling the public broadcaster's mandate to serve the regions of Canada. Here this is also an issue about a lack of local broadcast media diversity.

A diverse media environment is a necessary component of Hamilton's ability to develop and retain a healthy local culture; whether, artistic, economic, or political. A local CBC presence would provide an additional, wide reaching forum for citizens to be informed of and have a dialogue with their community, and for that dialogue to be part of a national network.

The CBC is currently reviewing its regional expansion strategy. This is a significant opportunity for Hamilton to gain another major media source. As part of developing this expansion strategy, it is important for Hamiltonians to impress upon decision-makers the need for a local CBC presence in both television and radio.

Given that this city is the largest underserved market in Canada, a fact that CBC highlights in their own research, expansion into Hamilton should be at the top of the priority list.

Unfortunately though, like many other issues in this city, we cannot assume that the federal government will be automatically responsive and informed of Hamilton's needs. In fact, according to the public broadcaster's draft regional expansion plan, Hamilton is not even on CBC Television's radar screen and we are placed behind smaller communities like Saskatoon in terms of being granted a CBC Radio station.

The issue of media diversity has been a central focus of the work at the Centre for Community Study; an important component of which is the role of the CBC in Hamilton. During the current process of developing the public broadcaster's regional expansion strategy, we are informing decision-makers of Hamilton's needs, and would invite those interested to express their opinion to the CBC.

For further information on expanding CBC to Hamilton, visit http://www.communitystudy.ca.

Sonja Macdonald and Paul Shaker are Co-Directors of the Centre for Community Study, a Hamilton-based, not-for-profit organization focused on the research, development, and implementation of public policy.


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By Steeltown (registered) | Posted None at

Were paying taxes towards CBC you would think they would at least have a local CBC website for Hamilton. Sheesh.

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By david wootton (anonymous) | Posted None at

As a Canadian taxpayer, I resent the CBC as an institution and would welcome any future government dismantelling of it since it is entirely useless in our region . As one of 780 000 Metropolitan Hamilton area residents in Canada's seventh largest metropolitan area, if you properly include West Lincoln and Haldimand, I am continually insulted by the reference to Hamilton ONTARIO and not simply Hamilton by the CBC as if few people in Canada know of or have heard of Hamilton. I never hear them refer to Winnipeg as Winnipeg MANITOBA but then again, I guess that they pay their taxes there and receive the same substandard CBC programming. I never even received a reply when I mentioned that to them a couple of years ago ! Perhaps we should begin to not consider ourselves part of Canada since we are continually ignored not only by the CBC but most of the Canadian media which are, of course as we all should know, mouthpieces of Toronto. Check out the covering scene of the evening CBC news - of course it is a picture of downtown Toronto. If it were a truly Canadian institution, there would be rotating scenes from all of Canada's 33 metro areas each evening. I would like to see a picture of downtown St. John, for example, and I would like to know what is going on there now and then. It is about time that advertizers realize that their messages stop at Oakville and that we tune them out as well as Toronto stations. We are severely underserved in not only Hamilton but also in the Niagara metro region - approaching 400 000 people - almost as big as often-mentioned Halifax. Perhaps you can reach the CBC and the CRTC and express our discontent about the lack of media attention in our area. Yours truly, David Wootton

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By ERNO (anonymous) | Posted September 07, 2010 at 15:51:47

Media Release-Immediate

The Long Gun Registry-Register Gun Owners-Not Each Gun

Gun owners are uncomfortable about registering each of their long guns, not only because it’s costly and cumbersome for the government to do so, but because many of them remember what happened to Jews in Europe prior to and during World War Two. The Jews were ordered to register their firearms and these guns were then seized by the Nazi’s. Then began the holocaust when the Jews were rounded up and slaughtered.

The Canadian government like the German government also ordered the registration of long guns, the first attempt by the Canadian government to do so. Canadian troops returning to Canada after the war were greeted with an order by the federal politicians to register their sporting firearms without exception. Canadian veterans returning from the bloodiest war in human history told the Canadian government that veterans were not amused with this Canadian gun registry of sporting firearms. These veterans had put their lives on line in crushing the Nazi’s who had slaughtered millions of people and had required German citizens to register their firearms. The Canadian government of the day in its wisdom allowed that first long gun registry to die.

Much later there appeared on the Ottawa scene a politician who thought that he had a great idea. Allan Rock pushed through parliament a law that created a compulsory long gun registry that created criminals of owners of sporting firearms who in some way failed to comply with his complicated registry. And Mr. Rock promised that the cost of his registry would not exceed three million dollars.

I'm a registered legal gun owner in Canada. I've passed the exams and obey all the safety rules for gun ownership. I've passed criminal background checks. I have a licence that I must produce when the police check my residence or car to see that everything is legal. This licence must be renewed periodically. I must be registered as a gun owner before I can legally own a gun. No trap or skeet shooting or legal gun ownership until I’m registered as a legal gun owner.

This information pops up on every police computer in Canada and in every police car if I'm pulled over by the police or if they come to my house to see if the safety rules of firearm ownership are followed. All this is fine with me.

But then I must register my firearms on the long gun registry as well to be a legal gun owner. That information from the long gun registry also appears in the same computers and has cost nearly 2 billion dollars to date to compile and is constantly in a state of change. The long gun registry has been hacked several times and much personal information has disappeared. Such information is welcomed by criminals who probably did the hacking.

Legal gun owners are registered by their gun licence without this long gun registry and are immediately known to police at the click of a computer key. Great! Now let’s put the money from a redundant long gun registry into arresting gang bangers and other criminals. And in doing so, the police and society will have the full cooperation of the legal firearm community. Our federal government should allow this long gun registry to die. Continue to register the firearm owners but not the millions of legal firearms.

Tel: 905-835-8051
Port Colborne, Ontario.

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By R Satz (anonymous) | Posted January 19, 2012 at 18:30:00

Spec alumni FTW!

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