UPDATED: Rogers shuts down 24-hours CityNews Channel
Rogers is shutting down its 24-hours City News Channel, just shy of two years from its launch, and is stopping production of the English-language South Asian newscast at OMNI Telelvision. These changes will affect 2.5 per cent of the broadcaster's workforce.
Rogers is shutting down its 24-hours City News Channel, just shy of two years from its launch, and is stopping production of the English-language South Asian newscast at OMNI Telelvision.
Scott Moore, president of broadcast at Rogers Media said "we made changes to the company’s television strategy to reflect evolving viewer habits and the global structural shift in advertising." The media company will now focus its broadcast news resources in Toronto on CityNews and 680News, and will also stop productions in Alberta at OMNI Television.
The changes will result in job losses for 62 full-time employees — or 2.5 per cent of the company’s broadcast workforce. "While difficult, these changes enable us to continue to focus our efforts where we know the market is growing, while helping us to effectively manage our costs,” Moore said in a statement.
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Nicole Blanchett Neheli, a broadcast journalism professor at Sheridan College and J-Source Field Notes editor, says "these cuts are a real blow to those working in the industry." Neheli worked as a producer at City before joining Sheridan College.
"You have to wonder how bad things were financially to make the choice to cut all programming after a two year run because it takes a lot of time, effort, and money to launch a 24-hour news channel," she said. "Evidently, City wasn't able to attract enough of CP24's audience — a viewer base that developed when CP24 was part of the City family."
Rogers launched CityNews Channel in 2011 to compete with Bell's CP24 channel, sparking a broadcast war in Toronto. CP24 was previously run by City but but moved to CTV when it bought CHUM in 2007. However CityNews Channel has struggled with ratings, according to media blogger Steve Faguy.
Ellin Bessner, a broadcast journalism professor at Centennial College, moderated a Canadian Association of Journalists panel a few years ago on local television. "That was right around the time that CityNews Channel was launching and I said what a great time for local television in Toronto it was … more competition, more news coverage for a city this size," she said. But Bessner says the CityNews Channel didn't "look as good" as its competitors, even though in her view, it had competent journalists.
"I don't know if it was a case of not marketing enough, but everywhere you looked — the doctor's office, the subway stations — it was always CP24," she added. "CityNews channel never had that cache and never got nearly the same level of exposure."[node:ad]
Rogers will use a graphic and stream 680News until CityNews Channel officially comes off air in June. Rogers bumped Sun News Network and replaced it with its CityNews Channel. Andrea Goldstein, a spokesperson for Rogers Media, said it's not been decided what will replace the channel on the dial going forward. "We have recently informed Rogers Cable and other BDUs of this decision, and they are in the process of deciding what to do," she said.
Top headline on CityNews channel: CityNews channel doesn't exist. twitter.com/simonhoupt/sta…
— Simon Houpt (@simonhoupt) May 30, 2013
Here is some of the some media reaction to Rogers announcement:
City TV: "CityNews Channel is no longer available. Thank you to our loyal viewers."
— AM640 (@am640) May 30, 2013
It was a fun run everyone #citynews
— Barry Choi (@barrychoi) May 30, 2013
@sladurantaye Rogers, our competitor, kicked Sun off the channel. Their home-made replacement had lower ratings. #oligopoly #CronyCapitalism
— Ezra Levant (@ezralevant) May 30, 2013
I'm shocked to hear about the shutting down of @CityNews Channel. I have friends who will be affected by this.
— Eric Novak (@MMPerspectives) May 30, 2013
Tamara Baluja is an award-winning journalist with CBC Vancouver and the 2018 Michener-Deacon fellow for journalism education. She was the associate editor for J-Source from 2013-2014.