CBC refocuses ‘The National’ amid coronavirus spread

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s nightly newscast, “The National,” has rebranded under the “Coronavirus Pandemic” banner, dedicating each newscast to the virus.

At the top of the Monday, March 16, 2020, episode, anchors Adrienne Arsenault and Andrew Chang reassured viewers of the program’s commitment to them and noting the changes that would likely follow to the broadcast. 

“Things are changing and they’re changing fast. The way we live and the way we work and our sense of safety,” said Arsenault. “The program may look a bit different over the coming days and weeks as we adapt to this new reality.”

“But we will still be here with the facts and advice from experts to sort through it all with you because this is ‘The National,'” added Chang.

On March 18, Toronto-based anchors Chang and Arsenault began social distancing on air, a move that has swept across the industry, moving to the wings of the anchor desk.

And while “The National” typically has a minimal on-air design, the “Coronavirus Pandemic” branding remains throughout each broadcast, emphasizing the magnitude of the moment. 

The other national news broadcasts in Canada, however, have remained largely the same in terms of presentation and production as they utilize a single anchor format.

Local impact on CBC News

CBC has also halted local evening newscasts at most of its affiliates with CBC News Network filling the void.

The network notes the change is about pooling resources to cover coronavirus through “one core news offering,” however, insiders tell NewscastStudio the change also relates to technical limitations and the centralized nature of the affiliates.

CBC’s local stations route through the Canadian Broadcasting Centre in Toronto and with the unfolding events, master control has become overwhelmed.