CBC’s supper-hour news broadcast on P.E.I. is going to look a little different for a while.
Effective immediately, Compass is being temporarily pre-empted as CBC News Network takes over the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. local news slots.
The Guardian reached out to management at CBC Charlottetown and was referred to corporate headquarters.
Susan Marjetti, general manager of news, current affairs and local at CBC, said the network is consolidating its news resources in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) outbreak.
“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,’’ Marjetti told The Guardian in an email late Wednesday afternoon, adding that the decision to consolidate resources is being made with the safety of the CBC employees in mind.
Louise Martin, host of Compass, and staff at CBC Charlottetown will contribute to the national program.
The national broadcast will air on CBC and CBC Gem at 6 and 11 p.m. local time every day of the week. The exception is CBC North which will continue to air its regular local program, Northbeat, for viewers in Inuktitut.
CBC will continue to air local programming on its radio, digital and social news platforms.
The news isn’t sitting well with Premier Dennis King who said he planned to speak to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about the matter and is formally requesting Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, the minister responsible for the CBC, reverse the decision.
“I am incredibly disappointed in the Canadian Broadcast Corporation’s decision to suspend local news broadcasts across the country,’’ King said. “The COVID-19 situation continues to evolve rapidly — hour by hour, day by day ... it is vital that we continue to share the latest information with Islanders in real time.’’
King pointed out that unlike many markets on the mainland, P.E.I. does not have a CTV or Global station, so CBC is all there is in terms of television and radio.
Kim Trynacity, branch president of the Canadian Media Guild for CBC/Radio-Canada, is also denouncing the decision.
“I agree with Premier King that, in a time of crisis, it’s more important than ever to have reliable local news coverage,’’ Trynacity said. “This is not a time to scale back; it’s the time to increase (local coverage), and that’s what I firmly believe.’’
Trynacity said there will be no job losses on P.E.I. or across the country, saying “I’m told that staff will be redeployed’’ into jobs such as feeding stories to the network, writing web stories or contributing to radio programming.