Shaw to end live council meeting broadcasts
Shaw TV is in Burnaby council's doghouse after it announced plans to end live broadcasts of council meetings on Monday nights.
Effective Oct. 15, recordings of council meetings would be broadcast either on Mondays at 11 p.m. or Tuesdays at 12 p.m., according to a letter to the City of Burnaby from Shaw TV. The new airtime would be finalized after consultation with city hall.
The rebroadcast would continue as in the past on the Saturday following the meeting at 9 a.m. and live streaming of the meetings on the city hall website would not be affected.
The reason given in the letter is "to effectively manage our scheduling conflicts and to ensure that council coverage is not pre-empted."
Coun. Nick Volkow noted at a recent council meeting that pre-emption has not been a common occurrence but in recent months, meetings have been pre-empted by WHL hockey games.
"The Lethbridge Hurricanes, the Medicine Hat Tigers. And I don't think Shaw does that as a mandate that they get from the CRTC as public programming," said Volkow. "I believe they make some pretty good money on the Lethbridge Hurricanes and the Medicine Hat Tigers. On occasion the Vancouver Giants are there."
He said that not everyone, particularly seniors, can watch the webcasts on a computer or iPad. He added that the live broadcasts used to be run by volunteers but when Shaw complained about the reliability of available volunteers, city hall installed video cameras in the council chamber.
"We paid for that so this could keep going out there, upgraded the sound system and everything else," Volkow said, adding there are no longer such volunteer opportunities for people to learn the broadcasting trade.
Mayor Derek Corrigan said the former community-oriented services now look like a way for big corporations "to get control of our airwaves. It was all about community ... It was all a big selling point in order to get to the stage where they got control.
"And then once control was achieved, they began deleting all of those community services and began commercializing the very station that was supposed to be there for community access," Corrigan said.
"I think this is totally undemocratic," said Coun. Dan Johnston. "This is Shaw using what was originally given to them as a reason to be, they're turning it into a profit-oriented initiative and putting community issues out the window and looking at advertising revenues. I think it's just shameful."
Corrigan quipped, "I think it might be a plot. I think it might be a result of us drawing too much viewership away from Monday Night Football."
Council approved a motion by Coun. Sav Dhaliwal directing the mayor to write to Shaw telling them the option of a delayed broadcast of council meetings is "not acceptable."
Representatives from Shaw Communications Inc. did not respond to requests for an interview by the NewsLeader's press time.