Canada

CBC temporarily replaces local evening TV news amid coronavirus pandemic

CBC is temporarily changing its news service in light of the coronavirus pandemic, including replacing local supper-hour and late-night newscasts across Canada with CBC News Network.

'We are temporarily pooling our resources into one core news offering,' says CBC's Susan Marjetti

CBC says it is temporarily changing its news service in light of the coronavirus pandemic, including replacing local supper-hour and late-night newscasts across Canada with CBC News Network. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

CBC is temporarily changing its news service in light of the coronavirus pandemic, including replacing local supper-hour and late-night newscasts across Canada with CBC News Network. 

Effective on Wednesday, CBC News Network will shift into "a core, live, breaking news service" that will feature content from local and national journalists from across the country, the public broadcaster said in a statement.

The modified News Network service will replace local evening and late-night newscasts across Canada, with the exception of CBC North programs Northbeat and Igalaaq, produced in Inuktitut. Local radio, digital and social news programming will continue. 

"As Canadians turn to us for the latest developments during these unprecedented times, we are temporarily pooling our resources into one core news offering to ensure the very best of our local and national journalism," said Susan Marjetti, CBC's general manager of news, current affairs and local.

"We are needed now more than ever, and will work together across the organization to serve Canadians night and day with the trusted news and critical information they need for the duration of the pandemic, while keeping our teams safe. Simply stated, extraordinary times require extraordinary measures."

The public broadcaster recently made CBC News Network free to cable subscribers, as well as free via online streaming on CBC Gem, CBCNews.ca, the CBC News app and CBC.ca.

Among the other changes, daily Ottawa-based show Power & Politics is being placed on temporary hiatus, while hosts and journalists have shifted to conducting interviews remotely via telephone, video conferencing or in designated areas outside of newsrooms.

CBC's changes echo those being made across news organizations, as broadcasters redirect staffers, grapple with employees working side by side amid social distancing guidelines, and increase safety measures to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus — at the same time that the general public is hungry for the latest news updates and information.

Media companies have not been immune to the coronavirus: newsrooms at NBC, CBS and Global News are among those that have been affected by staffers testing positive for COVID-19. 

CBC's decision quickly drew criticism from P.E.I. Premier Dennis King, who described local programming as "a critical partner" in helping share vital information amid the outbreak, and said he would bring up his concerns about CBC's decision with his federal counterparts.

"With the health and safety of Islanders at the forefront, it is vital that we continue to share the latest information with Islanders in real time," he posted in a statement on Twitter.

The decision to temporarily replace evening local TV news programming "was not an easy decision for us to make," said CBC spokesperson Chuck Thompson.

"We're taking everything day by day, often hour by hour.… Given these unprecedented times, this shift will ensure we provide Canadians with the best possible news coverage while keeping our journalists safe and healthy."

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