The forecast for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is cloudy with a 100-per-cent chance of content-sharing.
On Monday, CBC and The Weather Network struck an agreement that will see forecasts from the privately owned weather channel appear on the public broadcaster's flagship evening newscast, The National, while CBC news reports will air on The Weather Network.
The one-year trial, which goes into effect Dec. 8, means Weather Network meteorologists and other on-air contributors will supply weather updates through the day on CBC News Network, on CBC Toronto's weekend broadcasts, and on CBC's News Express airport network.
In exchange, The Weather Network will be able to pick up CBC's weather-related news reports for use on its TV channel and digital platforms.
For CBC, the move is twofold: a shot at taking the news content it produces beyond its own TV, radio and digital platforms. It's also a rearguard action to minimize the effect of job cuts it made last April.
"This is two brands that are strong in what they do, coming together to provide even better content and a better experience to viewers coast to coast," Maureen Rogers, managing director of The Weather Network, said in an interview."
Ms. Rogers said the weather channel might pick up a CBC report that gives a broader understanding of the effect of a major weather event.
"It could be, after an act of weather, [a CBC report] on the economy of that marketplace after a hurricane hits. Or an earthquake – the information behind an earthquake," Ms. Rogers said.
As part of the agreement, Weather Network branding, including the channel's logo, will appear during its segments on CBC; CBC branding will appear on the reports it provides The Weather Network.
Unlike other Canadian broadcasters, such as Bell Media, which has expanded its reach by buying dozens of TV and radio properties, CBC has few places to find new audiences. Last month, when it revealed it had secured rights for the 2018 and 2020 Olympic Games, it announced a partnership with Rogers Media and Bell Media for those broadcasts. But it cannot depend on those companies on a long-term basis. Its partnership with The Weather Network, which is owned by privately held Pelmorex Media Inc., is one alternative.
The partnership is expected to help CBC in its quest for younger viewers. Figures provided by CBC indicate that, of the 2.3 million Canadians per day who use The Weather Network's properties, 1.5 million do not currently use CBC on a daily basis.
"This is trying to get people who are consuming different kinds of information, who might not be tuning into the traditional news channel," said Jennifer McGuire, general manager and editor in chief of CBC News and Centres. "They're a different reach, and a different distribution of reach. We do well in some centres and not others."
But the move is also a fix for cuts that went too deep in the last round of belt-tightening. "We cut in April with a plan to support the news channel weather [coverage] through our regional system," said Ms. McGuire, referring to forecasters who work for local stations. "We figured out it was doable, in terms of time zones and shifts – that would be all great – but when we actually got into it, we found out that it wasn't supportable. We had to hire an [associate producer] to support doing the graphics, we had to support the local people with lots of overtime."
"This came for us as a great solution."
Later this week, CBC is expected to announce the first round of about 400 more positions to be cut by next March.