Although Global stations had always carried local news in various forms since Global first went to air in 1974, the first version of its national news, titled First National, was not launched until 1997, with Peter Kent as the inaugural news anchor. However, First National only ran initially in central Canada where Global had most of its stations. In 2000, when Global Television acquired the assets of Western International Communications (including what was then BCTV Vancouver), Global became a true national coast to coast network. In 2001, Global then replaced First National and WIC’s newscast called Canada Tonight with Global National, anchored by Kevin Newman, running Mondays to Fridays. A weekend version of Global National was added in February 2005 with Tara Nelson as weekend anchor.
In February 2006, Global National moved its newscast from the 11 pm timeslot opposite CBC and CTV to a new time slot at 5:30 pm daily, providing Canada with the only suppertime national news program in the country. The move to 5:30 pm was accompanied by an all-new set, new look and enhanced news package.
While Global had in the past been criticized for not running news coverage of elections which would have pre-empted popular entertainment shows (eg, in 2003, CKND in Winnipeg aired its usual programming schedule on the night of the Manitoba provincial election rather than provide special news programming, and Toronto moved its Ontario provincial election coverage to CHCH in Hamilton to avoid pre-empting its simulcast of the popular U.S. hit Survivor), Global’s emphasis on news was part of Global Television’s new brand strategy, which proved very successful.
Global National was broadcast live seven days a week from its national news centre in Vancouver, B.C. with news bureaus and correspondents in every major city in Canada, as well as Washington, D.C.
In April 2010, Kevin Newman sent an email to staff saying his last night at the helm of Global National would be Aug. Newman decided to leave because he felt the newscast needed a change.
On July 13th, CanWest Global announced that veteran broadcast journalist Dawna Friesen would be the new face of Global National. Friesen, 46, took over from Kevin Newman as anchor and executive producer of the national evening newscast when he left his post on Aug. 20.