Friday, June 3, 2016

Farewell To Canada AM.

CTV is making a terrible mistake in canceling Canada AM after 43 years.
The show's understandably confused hosts switched off Friday morning with tears.
The pioneering morning TV show was one of the few Canadian brand names left on CTV and its loss is pretty awful.
Before Canada AM Canadian viewers had to watch NBC's Today or the CBS Morning News.
With Canada AM CTV finally had a flagship morning news show and a very popular one at that.
Ask your next door neighbor what CTV shows they watch and you just might get a blank stare these days.
That's because the very Canadian nature of the network is fast fading.
The Canadian Radio-television Commission is to blame --those yahoos at the CRTC cut back the number of hours of Canadian content needed on Canadian networks during the daytime.
The cancellation of Canada AM is one of the first casualties of this misguided new policy.
I well remember in 1985 the private networks got together and demanded the CRTC relax its strict rules about the number of scripted dramatic series they had to provide every season.
"Trust us! We'll do this on our own!" they promised at CRTC meetings and the wacky Commissioners actually  believed them and abolished the drama regulation altogether.
In 1985 there were 12 quality scripted Canadian TV series.
The next season only two were left.
I hold the CRTC directly responsible for the declining quality of Canadian TV these days.
I know in 1972 my colleague Jack Miller then TV critic at the Toronto Star caused an uproar in Parliament when he sat down to read the entire briefing books of the Bureau Of Broadcast Measurement which calculated ratings in the Toronto area.
And Jack wrote a scahting story saying the average Toronto viewer spent less than 10 per cent of his prime time viewing on Canadian fare.
Today with CBC's continuing decline and the absolute lack of Canadian prime time series on Global and Rogers I'm estimating that figure must be down to 2 or 3 per cent.
The CRTC should be demanding more Canadian content and not less.
Was I the first TV critic to ever visit the Canada AM set?
In September 1971 I ventured up to Agin court to check out CFTO studios and the Canada AM cast which then consisted of anchors Carole Taylor and Percy Saltzman.
Saltzman wasn't talking much to Carole which made it difficult for me to write my column.
I went back when Helen Hutchinson took over and back again for a profile of Norm Perry.
CTV is hinting a new show to star Ben Mulroney may be unveiled at next week's TV critics meeting in downtown Toronto.
If CBC wanted a serious new show they'd make Kevin Donovan in as chair.
All I'm saying is Canada is a powerful CTV brand as powerful as 60 Minutes is to CBS or Today is to NBC.
Change it, move it downtown, but please keep the name.
It only took 43 TV seasons for Canada AM to become an important part of the CanadianTV landscape.


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