While British Columbia’s traditional broadcasting sector is facing challenges, Rob Bye, president of the BC Association of Broadcasters (BCAB), says the industry’s future is bright.
The 72nd Annual BCAB Conference wrapped up in Victoria last week. While not as robustly attended as in previous years, following the withdrawal of support for regional association conferences from Bell Media and Rogers, the event saw healthy contingents from Corus Entertainment and the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group (JPBG) attend, among other media companies, vendors, and consultants.
Bye says this year’s conference didn’t start out with a theme, but that one emerged organically.
“David Phillips from Nlogic talked about hope and not that hope is a strategy, but the future is hopeful for broadcasters if we take action and do something with the opportunities that are in front of us,” Bye told Broadcast Dialogue. “Certainly there are a multitude of challenges, but we were reminded that terrestrial radio and television still have huge audiences – in the car, listening and watching at home…and on different platforms. It’s our responsibility to remind everyone we’re on those different platforms.”
While terrestrial broadcast advertising revenue has taken a hard hit with the consumer shift to digital, Bye said he was encouraged by a focus group of Generation X’ers (those born between 1965 and 1980) featured at this year’s conference. Assembled in Victoria by Jeff Vidler of Audience Insights Inc., the panel included several listeners who primarily rely on local stations like CHEK-TV and CFAX 1070 for their news. It also included more than a handful of CBC Radio One devotees.
“Everyone is feeling challenged about the business, but we know there are great opportunities out there and the future is really bright,” said Bye, who in his day job serves as general manager of the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group’s Vancouver Island stations.
One of the BCAB’s recent initiatives saw the association strike a deal with the provincial government to support member stations in airing Public Service Announcements around the dangers of drug-affected driving, following the legalization of cannabis last year. The campaign, which has just started airing, follows the success of the association’s original CounterAttack PSA program discouraging drunk driving.
Member stations will also start airing PSAs in the New Year for the winner of this year’s BCAB Humanitarian Award, the Honour House Society, which provides members of the Canadian Armed Forces, veterans and emergency services personnel with a “home away from home” while receiving medical treatment in Metro Vancouver. The Humanitarian Award annually provides a charitable organization with free television and radio air time.
Bye says advocacy remains an important part of the BCAB’s role, not just on behalf of worthy organizations and causes, but on behalf of the industry.
“That has always been something that’s been important to BCAB, advocating for broadcasters. Historically we did some work around Crown land and lease costs for transmitter sites, but in an ongoing way it’s important for us to have a good relationship with the government. Even if to remind them that broadcasters are active in every community in the province and that in times of crisis, that we’re there with our local content and local news,” said Bye.
Find the full list of 2019 BCAB Award winners here.
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