CBC expands local news service

CBC will introduce new radio and internet services in Kitchener-Waterloo and London, Ont., and expanded weekend news programming for Edmonton, Ottawa, the Maritimes and St. John's.

CBC will introduce new radio and internet services in Kitchener-Waterloo and London, Ont., and expanded weekend news programming for Edmonton, Ottawa, the Maritimes and St. John’s.

The changes are part of CBC’s five-year strategic plan to increase services to regions across Canada.

"As we said with our announcements earlier this year, we know that local service is a key requirement with Canadians, so as a public broadcaster, that is one of our objectives," Kirstine Stewart, executive vice-president for CBC English Services, said in a statement.

New radio and internet services will be introduced in the London and Kitchener-Waterloo areas by fall of 2012, but details have not been released. They will be announced over the next few months.   

There are seven million Canadians who do not now have local CBC Service, among them Kitchener-Waterloo and London, where listeners tune into the Toronto radio service. Adding service to those cities will reach more than one million people, Susan Marjetti, CBC's managing director for Ontario, said in London on Monday after announcing the changes.

"So in the next year, we will be looking at what is possible and doable, and where we'll put the lion's share of our emphasis to make sure that the people in those cities are well-served by the CBC."

A small news operation has already opened in London and will be expanded, while new services will be added in Kitchener-Waterloo, she said.

It is part of CBC’s strategy to be more Canadian and more local, on more platforms, she said.

In Edmonton, Ottawa and Halifax, weekend news enhancements are expected to be implemented in 2012. In St. John’s, online news coverage will be extended and there will be a late-night local TV news program added on the weekend in spring 2012.

CBC’s initiative to expand local service began in May with announcements about expansion in B.C.

Kelowna and Victoria in October

Beginning this fall, CBC in Kelowna will create a new afternoon radio program focused on serving the British Columbia Interior. The show Radio West, hosted by Rebecca Zandbergen, debuts in the 3-6 p.m. time slot on Oct. 11.

That frees up CBC Victoria to adjust its afternoon program to appeal more to Vancouver Island audiences, beginning on the same date. All Points West will add traffic and other local segments.

By spring of 2012, new radio and online services will be established in Kamloops. A local radio news bureau has also been added in Prince George.

CBC previously made announcements about expanding weekend news in Toronto and Calgary.