Rogers Communications Officially Acquires Citytv Stations Across Canada

It’s a classic case of Rogers, over and in. Citytv, the famed independent that changed television, is now officially a member of the Rogers Communications family. The chain of stations, which includes outlets in Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver as well as the flagship in Toronto, was officially acquired by the cable and broadcast giant on Friday after the deal was approved by the CRTC.

It’s the last of a multi-part arrangement that saw CTV buy the Chum Empire, which owned the stations. But the national broadcaster was forced to sell off the Citytv entities over worries about too much concentration of media in the same market. And that’s when Rogers stepped in to salvage the deal, spending $375 million to acquire the stations. 

The company must also sell two religious TV outlets in B.C. and Winnipeg as a condition of the acquisition. The new owner has pledged to continue many of the hallmarks that have made Citytv famous as well as revitalizing the local brand, and it will keep its newsrooms -including this website, – intact and separate from its existing OMNI properties.

Ted Rogers is excited about what’s next. “We have a great future ahead of us,” he notes in a letter to employees. “And together I know the best is yet to come.”

Those with the giant entity vow you’ll see bigger and better things ahead for the ‘Little Station That Could.’ “We’re thrilled with the decision and with Citytv,” an excited Real Merson, the president of Rogers Broadcasting, assures. “It’s a business and a station that is an icon in the city … We love the hold that City has on the city and the audience, and we want to do it better.”  

Ted Rogers is equally enthusiastic. “It’s a great challenge for us and we appreciate the support of the CRTC and we will not let them down,” he vows. 

The announcement from the CRTC comes on a day that’s already something of a legend for the original station. Citytv Toronto went on the air as Channel 79 on September 28, 1972 – exactly 35 years ago.

Its programming has changed a lot since it took that first televised baby step. Those early days featured Saturday night boxing, a debate show with Dr. Morton Shulman, the Baby Blue Movie, a racy mini-series based on the life of “Casanova”, and a game show called “Greed”, hosted by Rummy Bishop – with Dan Aykroyd as a station announcer.

So just what should viewers expect from the new kid in Mr. Rogers’ neighbourhood? “Since you’ve just told me we are now authorized to come forward, obviously I haven’t had time to do the plans yet,” the new owner deadpans. “But give me ’til midnight!”

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