I don’t know why they made this announcement on a Friday afternoon, but even before their first local program goes to air, City Montreal is expanding its slate of local programming.
According to the press release, which I regurgitated into Tuesday’s Gazette, Rogers-owned City has greenlighted a half-hour weekly “magazine-style” series on local culture, to be hosted by three fresh faces to the local television scene: Tamy Emma Pepin, the former Tourism Montreal ambassador, HuffPost Quebec editor and prolific tweeter; screenwriter and producer Matt Silver; and Dimitrios Koussioulas, whose name I hadn’t heard at all until he came onto the scene with his own Mile End web video talk show Parc Avenue Tonight.
“Only In Montreal takes viewers into the kitchens of the latest restaurants, feature humourous portraits of famous locals and Montreal-loving celebrities, and informative stories on local hidden gems,” the press release says.
CJNT, which officially became a City TV station in February, had promised to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission that it would produce a local three-hour morning show and a weekly half-hour sports show to fulfill its mandate for local programming. It decided against a 6pm local newscast mainly because CTV, Global and CBC already have those, and going up against all of those would be asking for failure.
But those programs fulfill the requirements, and there was no talk of a culture/lifestyle show before now, so there’s no reason that Rogers has to do this. Unless … unless it actually thinks it could make money with it.
English Montreal hasn’t had programming like this in years. CBC cancelled Living Montreal as part of severe budget cuts in 2009. CTV had cancelled Entertainment Spotlight along with Sportsnight 360 a few months earlier, incorporating their features into expanded weekend newscasts.
Put simply, this is exciting news, and I’m anxious to see how it’ll turn out. Without specifying a date, City says the show will begin airing in the summer, which means it would be the first local show to begin on the station since Rogers bought it from Channel Zero and changed it from an ethnic station into an English one.
The biggest question will be what time slot City gives this show. It’s one thing to put it at, say, 7pm on Thursdays, when a lot of people might watch it (provided it’s also properly marketed). It’s another to sandwich it between two infomercials on Sunday morning, or to put it against the top-rated 6pm local newscasts it has already decided it doesn’t want to compete with.
The show will be produced by Whalley-Abbey Media, the Montreal-based production house behind everything involving Chuck Hughes and Debbie Travis.