Humber faculty and students explore TVO’s place in the 21st century

by: Cassandra Mignardi


In a time of internet streaming and mobile access, TVO, a licensed television broadcaster funded primarily by the government of Ontario, is currently questioning where they stand in this new era of programming. Is traditional programming simply becoming a way of the past? In 2017, TVO decided that it would no longer transmit free broadcast signals across eight out of nine previously existing over-the-air (OTA) transmitters, while leaving one in place in Toronto. This initial decision brought up many concerns from the public about losing their access to TVO programming.


Steven May, Humber faculty and project lead, alongside his research assistants, Kailie Annetts and Madalene Arias, viewed this as an opportunity to hear from TVO’s target market, the public. Ontarians made it clear they were not ready to lose these eight over-the-air transmitters currently residing in Ottawa, Belleville, Thunder Bay, Chatham, Cloyne, Kitchener, London, and Windsor. May explained that the group set out to gain more insight on the importance of TVO programming and why people were worried about these OTA transmitters being turned off.


Kailie and Madalene, both fourth year Bachelor of Journalism students at Humber, were in charge of reaching out to those who felt impacted by TVO’s preliminary decision. They conducted interviews with affected members of the public to gain a full understanding of their comments, concerns and interventions. They believe they were successful in their goal to hear from the public, but wish they could have connected with every single person on their lists. “At the end of the day, the people who wanted to participate in the project were the ones that did,” advised Madalene Arias, research assistant. Arias went on to explain how invaluable this experience was as she begins her career in journalism. “To do a job where I was actually applying the skills I learned through my education at Humber was important; along with the fact that I was doing something I love to do, which is interviewing people,” voiced Arias.


Kailie Annetts had similar feelings about the project as she mentioned that, “working with Steven, who is a leader to me, as part of my learning experience at school was really helpful…he knew exactly what to say to us…so that we could do the job to the best of our ability.” However, it wasn’t just the research assistants who were grateful for the opportunity. Steven May expressed his appreciation when he said, “I think it is great that Humber has a research program that allows us to do this work directly on campus. I couldn’t have done this project without Madalene and Kailie, especially as Bachelor of Journalism students. Their skills really made the research project a success.”


TVO, as part of the Ministry of Education, must continue to ensure that its execution also serves its educational mandate. As Steven May investigates this project further, his next steps will involve carefully listening to the interview material collected by his research assistants and using this crucial information to find out what role TVO’s over-the-air transmitters play in upholding their educational mandate and most importantly, providing access to TVO programming. “Ultimately, I hope this project will help advise TVO on when the right time will be for them to transition from a one way traditional form of television to a two way public service media model that is more suitable for the age of the internet,” explained Steven May, when asked about his future vision for the project.



Project Lead: Steven May

Research Assistants: Kailie Annetts, Madalene Arias