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CBC launching 14 new free streaming channels for local news across Canada

The CBC logo is projected onto a screen in Toronto on May 29, 2019. CBC is launching 14 free ad-supported streaming channels dedicated to local news across Canada.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin

TORONTO — CBC is launching 14 free ad-supported streaming channels dedicated to local news across Canada in an effort to attract younger audiences who don't have the "traditional habits" of linear news consumers.

On Thursday, the public broadcaster debuted CBC News BC and CBC News Toronto on platforms including CBC Gem and the CBC News App, with additional platforms expected to join in the coming weeks.

Within a year, CBC said 12 more so-called FAST channels will serve audiences in the North and every province, including dedicated channels in Calgary, Edmonton, Windsor, Ont. and Ottawa.

The strategy is based on a "confluence" of factors, including the growth of connected television and streaming audiences, and a desire to attract younger audiences who don't have traditional cable packages, said Brodie Fenlon, general manager and editor in chief of CBC News.

"All of this is an acknowledgment that there are still a large number of Canadians who will sit down at a television set at 6 p.m. to get the news of the day, but there's a number of Canadians who don't do that anymore and are looking for news on their terms on the devices or platforms of their choice at the time of their choosing," said Fenlon.

He said the strategy is especially important amid "a decline in local journalism."

"We're seeing newspapers fold or pull back. Even private broadcasters are having to pull back a local news service because the business model doesn't really work anymore."

He pointed to Meta shutting Canadian news out of its platforms Facebook and Instagram as one of the biggest disruptors of the news business.

"We see a real opportunity and a real need for local journalism, and it's in decline. So we're doing everything we can to to step in and do more of it for local communities."

CBC detailed the plan while announcing its upcoming fall/winter lineup, noting the channels will cover major breaking news, weather and local stories.

They join CBC Comedy and CBC News Explore as part of CBC’s FAST channel lineup.

The channels follow CBC’s recent launch of seven community-focused podcasts across the country and 19 local live streams on CBC Radio in the CBC News App.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 23, 2024.

Alex Nino Gheciu, The Canadian Press

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