St. Albertans will no longer be able to watch city council meetings on television by the end of summer.
Corus Entertainment and Shaw Communications announced the closure of Shaw television stations in Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver, a move that is expected to eliminate as many as 70 jobs.
Shaw TV offered four hours of televised St. Albert city council meetings for free as a community service. This will end Aug. 15.
Mayor Nolan Crouse says he’s disappointed, but ultimately it’s time to move on.
“Business is business and it’s an ever-changing world in media,” he says. “I’m disappointed, because it’s been seen as a good community service by residents, but the ship has sailed.”
Councillor Cathy Heron says, “it’s a sad day” for viewers.
“I think our viewership and the engagement will probably decrease quite a bit.”
Heron says her mother likes to play council meetings on the television while in the kitchen. People, like her mother who don’t have a computer in a convenient spot to listen to while performing other tasks, will lose out on the meetings.
“People are flipping channels and they see it and they stay and tune in for half an hour or 15 minutes or so and then they move on. But to sit down and watch the web streaming is a little more difficult.”
When asked whether or not council would seek purchasing television space on another channel, both Heron and Crouse say the costs would be too steep.
In 2016 Corus Entertainment Inc. acquired Shaw Media Inc. for $2.65 billion, which included Global.
Starting in September, Global News will receive $10 million annually from redirected funds from Shaw TV operations in Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. In a release, Shaw said Global News would “use these resources to increase community newsgathering efforts while adding capacity for relevant and locally focused news content.”
The Shaw channel will cease to exist with the closure of the station in Edmonton on Aug. 15.
However, St. Albertans will still have access to council meetings via online streaming available on the city’s website.
Kevin Malinowski is a local who records Monday council meetings on his television each week using PVR.
When discovering that he would no longer be able to record council meetings, he says he wasn’t happy.
“The nice thing about television is that you can rewind easily. When you’re streaming, there’s no pause or anything. You have to wait a couple of days until the downloaded video is available.”
Malinowski says he often attends council meetings, and will return home to replay parts of the meeting he didn’t understand.
“I depend on Shaw a lot for that,” he said. “So I’m disappointed and sad. I really appreciated that Shaw was doing it and I took advantage of it.”
Dana Popadynetz says he’s personally not as dismayed with the decision. Last year he cancelled his cable subscription and has been watching council online since.
“For me personally, it’s fine because we don’t have Shaw cable. The only problem with streaming online is the quality of the connection during the live-stream,” he says. “Sometimes the live feed will drop out.”
However, he did say he felt viewership would be affected by the change. While council meetings are live-streamed online, once the meeting finishes, it takes a few days to be uploaded on the website’s archive.
“I think it’ll cut a lot of people off from seeing what’s happening in council. By the time people get home from work or are settling down for the night, the live-stream for the website is finished already.”
Until Aug. 15 council meetings will continue to be aired on channel 10, 6:30 p.m. on Mondays. To view it online visit https://stalbert.ca/cosa/meetings/