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Rogers to the CRTC: take pity on us

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Rogers is in hearings with the CRTC today, negotiating for renewals of 17 of its television broadcast licenses. Unsurprisingly, the media corporation is trying to make the case that some regulatory leniency would help put its TV stations on sound financial footing.

According to the Star, one of the avenues of change Rogers is pursuing has to do with OMNI TV, its network of ethnic stations. The company is asking the CRTC to let it make OMNI less ethnic, in part by cutting the number of language groups served from 20 to 10 and dropping a requirement for 80 per cent ethnic programming during prime time.

And then, in talking about renewal for its other licenses, Rogers Media president Keith Pelley revealed a little more of his company’s situation. He told the CRTC, essentially, that Rogers’ $5.2 billion deal to broadcast all of Canada’s NHL games—the same deal that is about to result in layoffs at the newly hockey-bereft CBC—was done out of pure fight-or-flight terror at the prospect of declining ad revenue. According to the Globe, Pelley told the CRTC that the hockey deal, announced late last year, would enable Rogers-owned CityTV to cut its reliance on expensive U.S. programming by 20 per cent. This would, at least in theory, put the station on more competitive footing with Global and CTV. Pelley claims Rogers has lost $238 million on City since buying it in 2007, a result of a rapidly changing conventional-television market.

Is there a single Canadian who can muster pity for Rogers, a company for which a $5.2 billion purchase counts as evidence of financial need? We’ll find out when the CRTC releases its decision.

 

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