Rogers widening its net
Three-tv station deal step toward full national network
TORONTO — If the conventional television model is fading to black, no one has told Rogers Communications Inc.
The telecommunications and media giant said Thursday it plans to acquire Montreal station Metro14, or CJNT, and announced the signing of new affiliate agreements in Alberta and B.C. with Jim Pattison Broadcast Group.
Financial terms of the two separate transactions were not disclosed.
Rogers, which is attempting to scale its City-tv network up to rival larger broadcasters CTV and Global — both of which are owned by competing telecom providers — is buying CJNT from independent television company Channel Zero Inc., which picked up the station as Canwest Global Communications Corp. was going bankrupt in mid-2009.
“Breaking into this market with the acquisition of Metro14 Montreal is a key ingredient of our overall strategy to deliver our content to a national audience,” Scott Moore, president of broadcast operations at Roger said.
“It is our goal to become a full national network in the near future, and this is without question, an aggressive and essential step in the right direction,” he said.
The City network already has stations in the five major broadcast markets, including Toronto and Vancouver.
Regulatory approval for the transfer of CJNT’S television licence is expected in the fall. In the interim, City-tv programming will begin being aired on the station, which reaches an audience of 1.1 million, as of June 4.
In a separate announcement, Rogers said it has signed affiliate agreements with three Pattison stations in Kamloops, Prince George, and Medicine Hat, Alta. The deal calls for City-tv programming to begin airing on the stations on Sept. 1.
The announcements following on the acquisition of Saskatchewan station SCN in January, and will see City-tv reach nine million homes by the fall.
The push into conventional television comes as lower audience numbers plague the major networks of CTV, which is owned by Bell Media, Shaw Media’s Global network and the CBC. In hearings last month, Bell Media regulatory executives warned that as many as 10 of its affiliate stations face closing if they cannot become profitable.
City-tv, which has moved aggressively to buy competitive programming to bolster its broadcast schedule, however, has bucked the trend, seeing its audience numbers climb two per cent in prime time through midMarch, according to data from BBM Canada.
Rogers’ deal with Pattison extends a programming pact that was to expire in August. “This affiliate agreement is the natural evolution of a successful partnership with Pattison for City-tv prime time and select daytime programming,” the two companies said.