Media landscape in Victoria changing at top levels

CHEK-TV and the Times-Colonist install top management

Viewers and readers might not notice much difference when they flip on CHEK-TV or pick up the Times Colonist newspaper.

But both media outlets have made big changes at the top recently, one slightly more controversial than the other.

CHEK has a new president, but Roy Gardner is a familiar face, a man who spent 15 years with the station in the 1970s and ’80s. He replaces John Pollard, who helped a group of employees, along with other investors, buy the station from CanWest Global Communications in 2009, averting its closure.

At the Times Colonist, David Radler, former partner in the Hollinger newspaper chain with convicted fraudster Conrad Black and a man who served jail time himself for fraud, has been brought in as acting publisher. He replaces Bob McKenzie, who retired last week after 46 years in the business.

Radler, who has 40 years’ experience overseeing dailies, is known as an operations specialist, a man with a history of trimming jobs to shore up the bottom line of a publication or company, said David Black, associate professor of communication and culture at Royal Roads University (no relation to the Black Press co-owner of the same name, or Conrad Black).

Despite media reports Radler has no plans to make job cuts at the TC, Black worries what his installation – however temporary – might do to morale at the daily.

“From what I know of the Hollinger story, they were into lean organizations,” he said. “You may see some of those incremental changes that allow newspapers to outsource and cut costs.”

Gardner takes over a uniquely independent company – one of only two in Canada – that is not linked to any corporate news organization, a factor Black said leaves them fighting an uphill battle for viewership.

CHEK board member Levi Sampson said, however, that the community believes in the CHEK brand and model.

“I think our staple is our news. People watch CHEK-TV to see what’s going on in their backyards and their neighbourhoods,” he said. “But we’re also going to continue to provide the best programming we can, and that’s why you bring in a guy like Roy Gardner, who has a wealth of knowledge (about the industry).”

The veteran TV man brings experience in the ebbs and flows of the business and brings a fresh perspective to the board, Sampson said.

In general, Black said, revenues for network television have remained fairly constant in this country, pointed out Black, while newspaper revenues have not.

The way readers consume information is becoming increasingly integrated, he added, with many people turning to online news and entertainment sources.

He noted that the Times Colonist, in a mid-sized market such as Victoria, faces readership and business challenges not only from online sources, but from community newspapers such as those published by Black Press.

And the question remains whether Greater Victoria can support two TV stations, with CTV 2 generating its own following in the region and beyond.

Both CHEK and the Times Colonist share the problem of a small advertising base in this market and the strength of Victoria being highly educated and relatively affluent, Black said.

Despite being in a market with a high concentration of media – and a highly competitive one – creatively, the two properties are in a beneficial place, he said.

“We have Victoria punching above its weight with respect of being a place of media innovation in Canada.”

editor@vicnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Sooke School District is actively looking for more bus drivers after they had to cancel a handful of bus routes in late November. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bus driver shortage cancels routes in Sooke School District

More drivers needed to accomodate expanding bus routes amid pandemic

Joe Robertson and Jack Amos ran the length of Vancouver Island, with the help of their van Pippi, raising more than $12,000 for 1Up Victoria Single Parent Resource Centre. (Photo submitted)
Greater Victoria pair finishes running length of Vancouver Island a day early

Joe Robertson and Jack Amos raised more than $12,000 for single parents

The Sooke Santa Run will feature their youngest members as Santas, an annual tradition for the firefighters in Sooke, East Sooke, Shirley and Otter Point. The drive-by event takes place throughout the Sooke neighbourhood on Dec. 12. (File - Sooke News Mirror)
No one outside fire hall allowed to help volunteer for Sooke Santa Run

Drive-by event takes place on Dec. 12, with goal to raise $15,000

A West Shore man has been handed two tickets for failing to wear a mask after verbally abusing staff at a coffee shop in View Royal and gas station in Langford. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Man ticketed twice for refusing to wear mask in same day, say West Shore RCMP

Police ask businesses to report incidences when they occur

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

(AP Photo/Paula Bronstein)
POLL: Has COVID-19 changed your plans for the holidays?

The lights are going up, the stacks of presents under the tree… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 1

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

(Needpix.com)
Fraudsters projected to use pet scams to gouge over $3M from customers: BBB

The pandemic heavily contributed to the number of puppy scams

Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy are inviting audiences into their home for ‘A Celtic Family Christmas’. (Submitted)
Natalie MacMaster coming to you through Cowichan Performing Arts Centre

Here’s your chance to enjoy the famed fiddler in an online show with her husband Donnell Leahy.

An RCMP cruiser looks on as a military search and rescue helicopter winds down near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
B.C. Mountie, suspect airlifted by Canadian Armed Forces from ravine after foot chase

Military aircraft were dispatched from Comox, B.C., say RCMP

An 18-year old male southern resident killer whale, J34, is stranded near Sechelt in 2016. A postmortem examination suggests he died from trauma consistent with a vessel strike. (Photo supplied by Paul Cottrell, Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
“We can do better” — humans the leading cause of orca deaths: study

B.C. research reveals multitude of human and environmental threats affecting killer whales

Most Read