CityNews Channel Goes Local Rather Than American to Launch in Toronto TV Market

Rogers Media is using the Citytv brand and a radio news wheel format to start a local all-news channel against market leader CP24.

TORONTO -- This is novel: a Canadian broadcaster has launched a new TV channel without licensing a U.S. brand.

Rogers Media has gone to air in Toronto with CityNews Channel, a 24/7 local news service, by exploiting a popular Toronto brand, the Citytv conventional TV station, and adapting a 30-minute news wheel format used by one of its local all-news radio stations, 680 News.

The aim is to compete against an established player, rival Bell Media’s CP24 news channel, which has been on air for 10 years and has a commanding lead with local audiences and advertisers.

Tina Cortese, vice president of news and general manager at Citytv Toronto, said the news wheel template -- traffic and weather on the 1s, sports on the 15s and 45s, and city business on the 26s and 56s – will change the TV viewing habits of Torontonians by offering news and information when and where they know its available.

“At the basic level, it’s taking the 680 format, taking that familiarity and regularity, to TV,” she said.

Cortese added CityNews Channel is also offering local TV viewers a brand they know well, as the Citytv TV station has been on air for newly 40 years.

Launching a new channel with local brands marks a departure for Canadian broadcasters, which typically license a popular U.S. property to woo audiences and advertisers with a new channel.

Rogers Media just launched FX Canada, a local version of the U.S. premium channel, Corus Entertainment Canadianized the Sundance Channel, and CTV and Comcast International Media Group brought the E! channel north with its own local version.

MGM and Warner Bros. are shortly to stake out territory on the Canadian TV dial with their own local movie channels.

That comes on top of Canadian broadcasters shopping the world for foreign formats after the success of local versions of Top Chef, Dragon’s Den, So You Think You Can Dance, Pop Idol and Project Runway.

But for CityNews Channel, Cortese insisted it made sense to go local and take content and on-air commentators from other Rogers Media properties, including CityNews, 680News, Sportsnet, Maclean’s and HELLO! Canada, to gird for battle with CP24.