Rogers Media just announced it is adding local evening TV newscasts at 6 and 11pm to City stations in five more markets in Canada — Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Montreal. (Toronto already has them.)
The new CityNews newscasts in Edmonton and Winnipeg will start on Sept. 4, and the rest in winter 2018.
The newscasts will each be one hour long and seven days a week. Details are a bit sketchy at this point and no talent has been announced. I’ve asked how many new jobs this will mean and will update when I hear back.
Rogers has confirmed to me that local Breakfast Television broadcasts will remain in markets that already have them (Edmonton and Winnipeg are the ones that don’t), so this will be a net increase in local programming. But since the evening newscasts would meet the CRTC-required 14 hours a week of local programming in major markets, Rogers could in the future decide to cancel BT or make it non-local and still meet its licence obligations.
The decision to add local newscasts comes on the heels of a few recent CRTC decisions on television policy. First, major vertically-integrated companies were given the flexibility to take money away from community television channels and redirect it to their own local commercial TV stations. Rogers is among those to have made major cuts to community TV, and CityNews is being improved with this money from Rogers cable customers.
The second is a new requirement for locally reflective news programming, issued as part of licence renewals that take effect on Sept. 1 (six hours a week in large markets, three hours in other markets). Rogers’s existing Breakfast Television and Dinner Television programs (and certainly its radio-on-TV programs) doesn’t have much of that (BT Montreal has a single news reporter), and so it decided to take the plunge into evening newscasts, where it will go up against CTV, Global and CBC in all of these markets.
The only station not getting a local newscast is City Saskatchewan, which is actually a cable channel that’s officially licensed as an educational broadcaster.
There aren’t many details on content, but there will be sports content from Sportsnet and stories from Rogers’s magazines including Maclean’s. It’s unclear how much national multi-market content will be used.