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Television has changed right before her eyes by Rikkeal Bohmann

Mar 5, 2014

Source: Regina Leader Post

Not everyone can watch television all day and get paid for it, but Joanne McDonald has made a career out of doing just that.

“It’s one of the few jobs you can justify watching TV all day,” said McDonald, general manager of City Saskatchewan, formerly Saskatchewan Communications Network (SCN).

Originally hired as a temporary employee, McDonald never expected she would have made a career in television.

“I just never left,” said McDonald laughing.

McDonald hasn’t been bored since she began her career with SCN in 2001.

Now general manager, she has her hand in almost every aspect of City Saskatchewan. From programming, production, master controls to administration, she has done it all to keep the station running smoothly.

Since McDonald began her career, she has been witness to many changes to the television industry in the province.

“When I started it was 100 channels and there wasn’t as much competition for your attention as audiences. Over the years it has grown to the 500-plus channel universe,” she said.

She was with the station when it was a public, educational television network. In spring of 2010, the Saskatchewan government cut off funding for the station, and it was purchased by Bluepoint Investments. It continued providing educational content, but received its biggest change once Rogers bought the station in 2012.

City Saskatchewan still provides educational programming through the day and national television programs during the evenings.

Some of the local programming includes a series aimed at preschool children that teaches yoga in a Saskatoon space, and a three-part series exploring Saskatchewan’s regional colleges.

Even though the end of the film tax credit changed what was being filmed in the province, McDonald doesn’t expect local programming to die off any time soon.

“There’s still an appetite for people to watch things like that.”

For her, programs like Corner Gas, Little Mosque on the Prairie and Renegade Press show the success the province has had in the television industry.

McDonald sees Saskatchewan as a place where there are a lot of stories to tell, with a rich cultural history. She noted that many indigenous programs are now being produced in the province.

“It’s great to provide people with stories from where we come from. I think it’s important to reflect ourselves on TV,” said McDonald.

Supporting arts and culture in Saskatchewan is important to McDonald. Amid her busy schedule, she volunteers for SaskCulture and the Yorkton Film Festival as a director on each of their boards.

“Without (arts and culture) I don’t think we’re a whole society,” she said.

© Regina Leader Post