Monday, 26 March 2012

Who is Canada’s TV News Leader? Who Really is #1?

Canada’s TV networks regularly claim to be number 1 in news.  In recent years more than one network has claimed to be the most trusted, to have the largest audience or the best anchorperson.  The Media Trends Survey, which is independent of all the networks, has asked Canadians which network has the best national, international and local news for ten consecutive years.

CBC, CTV and Global offer national news programs, either in the early evening or late night.  The network judged as providing the best national news in 2011 was CBC TV (39%).  CBC News Network was chosen by an additional 8%, meaning that almost 1 in 2 Canadians choose CBC as the leader in national news. These results have been similar through the past ten years and don’t seem to have been affected by Peter Mansbridge sitting at a desk or standing at a podium. CTV was chosen by 21% and CTV News Channel by 7% in 2011, consistent with CTV’s results over the decade.  Global (10% in 2011) has been a distant third for the entire decade. Global has made a major investment in its news programming in recent years but it has yet to make a difference in public opinion.


For much of the decade CBC/CBC News Network have shared the lead with CNN/CNN Headline News as the networks of choice for international news, with CTV/CTV News Channel a distant third.  It says something about Canadians that 1 in 3 of us choose an American network as being the best source for international news coverage.  Covering the world is expensive and this prohibits even the CBC from expanding its international coverage.  Yet, there is clearly an opportunity for CBC and other Canadian networks in this category of news.   

Again this year CTV was the clear leader in local news, chosen by some 35% as having the best local news programming. CBC was second with 21%, its best year in the entire decade, while Global had 18% support in 2011.  CITY TV, which is not available to the entire country like CBC or CTV, trailed all channels with only 6% support.


As for being the most trusted network, CBC and CTV are co-leaders.    In the 2011 survey CBC/CBC News Network (29%/7%) were chosen as having the most trustworthy news, while CTV/CTV News Channel (26%/7%) were almost identical.  Clearly the two organizations have carved out a special place in the minds of Canadians.  CNN (4% in 2011) had its lowest numbers in ten years, perhaps a function of improvement in the Canadian networks as well as the politicizing of U.S. news networks over the past decade.

And, in case you were wondering, voters from all three main political parties choose CBC as having the best national news.  Liberal and NDP voters feel more strongly but even Conservative voters give thumbs up to CBC.




The 2011 survey results are from CMRI's Media Trends Survey conducted November-December 2011 among a representative national sample of approximately 900 Anglophone respondents aged 18-plus.  Margin of error +/-3.3%.  The Media Trends Survey has been conducted for ten consecutive years and has surveyed over 15,000 Canadians in total in this period. It is the only survey to have measured media use and attitudes continuously over this decade. The Media Trends Survey is not sponsored by any one industry or affiliated with a media company.  Therefore, the surveys are scrupulously designed not to bias respondents into favouring one medium or media outlet over another

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