Monday, 7 July 2008

30 - TV guide

The demise of the once mighty Sunday Sun television guide in Toronto is official.

Sunday Sun readers who depend on the television guide discovered the plug had been pulled AFTER buying the paper yesterday.

No warning.

Readers who asked retailers "where's the guide?" were shown a notice that read: "Attention Toronto Sun Retailers. Please note that effective Sunday July 6th, the Television Guide will no longer be available in the Sunday Sun."

Might have missed it, but we didn't see anything in the weekend papers announcing the demise of the guide after 35 years.

We're not sure if the guides have also been pulled from the other tabs in Ottawa, Calgary etc. In May, the Winnipeg Sun switched TV guides to home subscribers only.

Can't say the anemic 36-page Toronto guide is a great loss, other than the fun Crossword that we most often completed, occasionally with quick peaks at the answers on Page 16.

That leaves two favourite newspaper television guides: Friday's Globe and Mail 7 section, with a mix of television and film, and the Saturday Star's StarWeek.

The rise and fall of the Sunday Sun TV guide:

When the Sunday Sun was launched Sept. 16, 1973, the guide, simply called television, had 42 pages and a glossy cover. Kathy Brooks was editor, Andy Donato was designer, Olive Collins was editorial assistant and Lynda Blacow and John Pascaluta were responsible for the listings. (Photo: First Sunday Sun TV guide)

And it was what a television guide should be, a generous mix of listings, feature writing, TV tidbits and ads.

Sunday Sun readers loved the television guide and said so in annual surveys. It was a guide that grew and grew and grew. By the early 1990s, the re-named TV Magazine was 82 pages, with a glossy cover.

The Oct. 25, 1992 issue, for example, had 82 pages. Gord Stimmell was executive editor, Jim McPherson was editor and Patricia Job and R.F. Galbraith were responsible for the listings. (Photo: October 1992 TV Magazine)

In addition to the cover story and easy-to-read listings, columns included Movie Scrapbook by Jim McPherson; You Asked Us, by Eli Witmer; Video Clips by yours truly; Channel Hopping by Jim McPherson; Kid Stuff, TV and video releases for kids; On The Soaps, by Sell Groves; Pay TV listings; TV Trivia, by Jerry Gladman, a TV Crossword; Live! Sports listings; Sports Pulse, by Rob Longley. Plus numerous ads.

In the 1980s and 1990s, some people told the Sun they were buying the Sunday Sun just for the TV guide.

Then along came Quebecor in 1999 and the ousting of TV vet Gord Stimmell. And so began the steady decline of the once prosperous and proud TV magazine.

Another Sunday Sun tradition down the tubes - and one fewer reason to buy the paper at a time when Sun Media says it wants to be the No. 1 Sunday paper in Toronto once again.

The Sunday Sun was No. 1 in the early 1990s, with a circulation peaking at 550,000.

Word is the Sunday Sun is now hovering at 300,000, if not lower.

So Sun Media and Quebecor are dreaming if they believe they can regain that title by eliminating most of the features that made the Sunday Sun a winner from the 1970s through the 1990s.

The campaign to rid the Sun of all the "old ways" from the Doug Creighton years is nearing completion, with many bodies strewn about in the carnage.

It's just not TSF's Sun anymore.

But longtime Sunday Sun readers owe Stimmell, who is now doing his magic at the Star, and the late McPherson, for their many dedicated years of catering to their television wants and needs. They were the unsung heroes for couch potatoes.

Time for some TV. Where's my Globe guide, six remotes and the popcorn?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for that. Thought the guide had fallen out, or I sadly grabbed a guideless copy.

    Y'know why I'll miss it? (As a fairly recent Sun convert) Seems the Sun's guide was one of the few accessible in this area (Hamilton) that had late night listings. Ok, being a fan of 1 and 2 a.m. flicks ain't great for on-time arrivals at work in the moorning. But I like'em. Sorry to see it go.

    I'm still impressed by some local news improvements seem to be happening. We need a Sun tab in The Hammer. We need it badly.