Television


Hammy Hamster's Adventures on the Riverbank

Twelve years ago, I sang the praises of Hammy Hamster.

I remember fondly being mesmerized by Hammy Hamster. Hammy Hamster was the lead character in a television show entitled Hammy Hamster and he was indeed a hamster. Not a cartoon hamster, but an actual hamster. His best friend was G.P. who was a guinea pig and there were others. These riverbank creatures had calming adventures and I was just psyched to see actual rodents performing. It was very cool.

Now, thanks to Retrontario, we have a full episode of Hammy Hamster's Adventures on the Riverbank as it aired on Global TV back in 1982. It even has the original commercials.

That's my jam right there... sweet, sweet nostalgia.

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Gord Martineau Signs Off as CityNews Anchor

Surprise! Gord Martineau signed off as anchor of the six o’clock news for the last time today. There was no goodbye, no farewell tour, he signed off as normal and a press release was issued by Rogers.

From the press release:

Martineau began his career with City back in 1977 as anchor of CityPulse. A Montreal-native, Martineau easily adapted to the Toronto environment and became an important part of the community, bringing a new brand of newscast to Torontonians. Throughout the years, he led coverage of the biggest local stories of our time, from Terry Fox’s heroic marathon run, to international affairs including Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan, and the events surrounding former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

Here's something I wrote about Gord 12 years ago. As I wrote then, I don't remember a time he wasn't anchoring the six o'clock news on CityTV. I even ranked him #5 on my list of Canadian Gords.

Here he is returning to CityTV back in 1980 after a few weeks working for the Global Television Network.

Mike Cooper recently left his Rogers Media gig to much fanfare. Gord Martineau was the biggest name at City for decades and didn't even say goodbye. This doesn't look like a happy parting, but I won't speculate any further.

It's the end of an era.

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Skinny Cable Packages Still Bloated

Four years ago, I wrote about the sports fans dilemma when it comes to cable television. Basically, you're screwed.

Yes, I'm well aware you can legally (and illegally) stream live sports, but at this point I just want to turn on Sportsnet or TSN or CBC and catch the game live in HD. Sometimes I'm watching hockey, sometimes I'm watching basketball, sometimes I'm watching baseball and sometimes it's tennis or soccer or whatever. Legally, it's expensive to purchase each league's streaming service, and illegally there a tremendous loss in quality and reliability. As I wrote back then, I pretty much live on CBC, TSN and Sportsnet. Three stations, that's it.

By March 1, TV providers in this country have to offer skinny basic packages and pick-and-pay channels. Considering I only want the three channels, you'd think this would save me a lot of money. Let's take a closer look and see how much money I'll save...

basic

Rogers's starter package is $25. That doesn't include the rental of the HD receiver, which is $7.50. And I also pay some bullshit "Digital Services Fee" of $3, so I'm already at $35.50 before I've added TSN and Sportsnet.

sports

Of course Rogers didn't lump all the sports stations together, that would be too easy. If you just want Sportsnet and TSN, you're out another $36. So my monthly Rogers bill for CBC, Sportsnet and TSN would be $71.50 plus tax.

That doesn't seem very skinny for three stations.

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Canadian-Based NHL Teams Suck and Rogers Suffers

I used to read Chris Zelkovich's column in the Star. The Toronto Star decided to eliminate the media critic role, and Zelkovich was cut.

He now writes for Yahoo! (the exclamation mark is necessary) and just published an article about hockey ratings woes at Rogers. As he puts it, "the Canadian-based teams are killing ratings".

With the delightful fall of the Habs, only one Canadian-based team is currently in a playoff position, and that's the Canucks clinging to 8th place in the Western Conference. That's incredible! Here's a screenshot of a very unlikely moment in history.

nhl1

nhl2

Rogers in the second year of its 12-year, $5.2 billion deal with the NHL. If no Canadian teams make the playoffs, ratings will take a serious hit, and there's absolutely nothing Rogers can do about it.

Personally, the only Canadian-based NHL team I give a rat's ass about is my Toronto Maple Leafs, and I'm loving the Shanaplan. Everything is going according to plan... I just hope Reimer doesn't steal too many points down the stretch. Just lose, baby... our future depends on it.

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CHCH TV

CHCH TV has cancelled tonight's newscast. "The fear is the station is shutting down or being dramatically reduced."

This is awful news for CHCH employees, which includes two-time Toronto Mike'd guest Mark Hebscher, but it's also sad news for those of us who grew up tuning in channel 11.

I have great memories of watching The Hilarious House of Frightenstein on CHCH. Billy Van was awesome on that show. Steve Smith alone gave us Me & Max, Smith & Smith and The Red Green Show.

Then, there was Maple Leaf Wrestling. I'll never forget Billy Red Lyons saying "don't cha dare miss it". I still use that line periodically.

chch

CHCH is a Hamilton station, but in the days when I'd fiddle with a television antenna to bring in a very few stations, it was always there. Sadly, it's losing money, and the future is very uncertain.

Update: The CEO of Channel Zero, Roman Podzyhun, just came on CHCH TV to announce the news will return Monday. He says they're "making significant change" to schedule with "less local programming".

The Globe and Mail is reporting that "roughly half the staff will be laid off". Channel 11 L.P. has filed for bankruptcy, so those being fired won't receive severance. That really sucks.

I'm going to start a list of people who were let go today. 80-100 people 129 full-time employees and close to 30 part-timers got a pink slip without severance.

  • Mark Hebscher
  • Donna Skelly
  • Melissa Raftis
  • Cindy Csordas
  • Elise Copps
  • Matt Hayes
  • Scott Urquhart
  • Lori De Angelis
  • Natalie Marconi
  • Ken Welch
  • Lauran Sabourin
  • Jaclyn Colville

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November 2015 Bell Media Cuts

We're learning now who has been cut as part of Bell Media's restructuring. The vast majority of those let go were behind the scenes, but I'm going to focus on those in front of the microphone and/or camera, known to those tuning in from Toronto.

I'll update this entry as I learn more.

NewsTalk 1010

  • Mike Toth
  • Dave Woodard

CTV Toronto

  • Bill Hutchison
  • Suneel Joshi

CTV News Channel

  • Dan Matheson
  • Amanda Blitz
  • Tom Kennedy

TSN

  • Sheri Forde

TSN Radio 1050

  • David Bastl

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Ann Rohmer Retires from CP24 (Again!)

About five-and-a-half years ago, Ann Rohmer left her job at CP24 for a position in the aviation industry. Then, mere months later, Ann returned as if she had never left in the first place.

I spoke to Steve Anthony about this in episode 123 of my podcast as he tried to make sense of it all. Give it a spin if you have an hour to spare.

It seems Ann Rohmer has done it again, retiring from her role on CP24.

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As you've likely heard, Bell Canada is eliminating a number of positions in both Toronto and Montreal this month. If this tweet is to be believed, Ann stepped down to save another. Hat tip to @1236.

Happy retirement, Ann! See you back on CP24 in a few months...

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The Ron Oliver Show

At some point in the very early 90s (or was it the very late 80s?), I stumbled upon a YTV show called "The Ron Oliver Show". I was hooked.

For some reason, this show tickled my funny bone. It was great fun while it lasted, which wasn't very long. I've been trying to find evidence of this show online but it's surprisingly difficult.

Ron Oliver's IMDB page doesn't even list the show in his credits. A search of YouTube for "Ron Oliver Show" comes up empty. Did I dream this show up?

Thanks to Retrontario, there's now evidence I'm not completely delusional. Oliver's Twist was a YTV clip show that used the best bits of YTV Hits and the Ron Oliver Show and he's posted five minutes to his YouTube channel.

Does anyone else remember The Ron Oliver Show on YTV?

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Introduction to TSN (1984)

Meet John Wells, Jim Van Horne, Michael Landsberg and Terry Leibel from your new TSN.

British gymnastics!

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NHL Playoff Ratings Plummet 20%, but Why?

According to Numeris research, total playoff ratings were down 20% in 2015. This is despite the fact five Canadian teams made the playoffs this year, with two advancing to the second round.

Rogers, in the first year of their monster 12-year, $5.2 billion dollar deal, predicted a 20% increase this season. What happened that caused a big decline instead?

Here are a few possibilities. Let me know in the comments why you think NHL playoff viewership is down.

Chicago Fatigue
I don't know about you, but I'm tired of the Chicago Black Hawks winning. Sure, they're a great team, but it's a little like watching a re-run. Personally, I'm bored by it all.

No Leafs
Once again, the NHL playoffs was Leafs-less. Of course, they were Leafs-less last season as well, so it shouldn't have caused a year-over-year decline. Regardless, if the Leafs were in the playoffs, you know ratings would have soared. No team in the country attracts as many eyeballs.

The Jays Were Hot
While the Stanley Cup final was taking place, the Jays were winning 11 in a row, many in exciting fashion. Rogers scored some big numbers for Jays games, and you know it likely cannibalized their hockey numbers.

People Don't Like Rogers's Coverage
I'm not sure about this one, because the game is the game is the game. I sincerely believe most hockey fans just want an HD feed of the game, which Rogers provides. Still, it's possible some of the changes Rogers has made are not sitting well with viewers, causing many to tune out.

There are four possible reasons for the 20% drop. Why do you think ratings are down?

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