—The amount of money donated by the Rogers family to support the founding of a new heart research centre in Toronto. (The family patriarch, former Rogers CEO Ted Rogers, died of heart failure in 2008.) According to the Globe, this is the largest-ever private donation to a Canadian health-care institution or university. The funds will be matched by contributions from the Hospital for Sick Children, the University Health Network and the University of Toronto.
Dear Urban Diplomat,
I live in a ground-floor suite and pay my own utilities, including cable. My landlord lives above me, and we have a good relationship. However, I just noticed a splitter thingy coming off of my Rogers cable box. I Googled it and sent a photo to my friend who installs cable for a living, and now I’m 95 per cent sure my landlord is stealing my cable. I’m annoyed that he’s getting free TV on my dime, and I’m a little worried that a Rogers technician will eventually notice and I’ll get dinged somehow. What to do?
—TV Drama Star, Leslieville
The Post reports that Maple Leaf Square, the space outside the Air Canada Centre where sports fans gather to watch games on a giant screen, will soon be renamed “Ford Square.” The new monicker isn’t a reference to the mayor (he wouldn’t be the first living chief magistrate to get a square named after himself, though he would be the first to earn that distinction on the heels of a rehab stint). The name is actually an homage to the Ford Motor Company, which is set to announce a major sponsorship deal with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.
The square’s renaming is obviously unfortunate, not only because of the inevitable confusion with the automaker’s crack-smoking soundalike, but also because the square currently has a name that means something to the people who spend time there, and soon it will have a name that means nothing to anyone but the people who brokered the sponsorship deal. But is this the worst instance of corporate renaming in Toronto’s recent history? Not even close. Here, a brief rundown of other things companies have managed to get named after themselves, to greater or lesser degrees of outcry.
—The amount of money Nadir Mohamed, who retired from his position at the helm of Rogers last December, made in 2013, according to a Globe analysis of the earnings of Canada’s 100 top-paid CEOs. The total includes a $1.5 million bonus and $17,242,636 in other non-salary compensation.
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.
Here’s your roundup of all today’s exciting George Stroumboulopoulos news: according to reports out of CBC and Rogers Media, the earringed one will be giving up his talk show, George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight, and accepting a new gig as the host of Hockey Night in Canada. The move is the first big staffing change to be announced by Rogers since it bought the rights to Canadian NHL broadcasts—including Hockey Night in Canada—for $5.2 billion late last year.
The Canadian Press is reporting that Strombo’s time on HNIC will begin with the next hockey season, in October 2014. His face will be virtually inescapable for Canadian hockey fans: Rogers now has a monopoly on hockey in this country, and so the new host’s duties extend not only to CBC, but also to broadcasts on City, Sportsnet and any other channels or websites that might conceivably contain a picture of a hockey rink. Don Cherry, Ron MacLean and the rest of the gang are said to be retaining their jobs for the time being (the Rogers deal only guarantees the continued existence of HNIC on CBC for four years), but a press release indicates that their roles will be reduced.
Considering the utter failure of his attempted expansion into the U.S. talk-show arena, this may be Strombo’s one realistic shot at advancing his television career. He’ll be the de facto face of Canada’s national sport, and Canada will have to get used to him, if it can.
It looks like Rogers could be getting serious about launching an online streaming package to rival Netflix. According to a report in the online trade magazine Cartt.ca (whose paywalled story was subsequently picked up by the Canadian Press), the proof could be in the cash: Cartt’s sources say Rogers has recently spent over $100 million on the rights to a wide selection of TV shows and movies, apparently for the purpose of allowing customers to stream them on demand.
When Rogers announced that it had bought the rights to all of Canada’s NHL broadcasts, it was immediately clear that the prognosis for CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada wasn’t going to be great. Under the deal, Rogers gets complete creative and financial control of the iconic show, meaning it could make big changes without consulting the CBC. And now it’s becoming apparent that the telecommunications giant is even planning on introducing some competition into the mix: a second hockey night.
Twitter exploded this morning with “Livin’ on a Prayer” puns over news that classic rock mainstay and hair enthusiast Jon Bon Jovi is joining forces with Larry Tanenbaum (part owner of MLSE) and Tim Leiweke (president and CEO of MLSE) to bid on the Buffalo Bills and move the team to Toronto. Rock star wattage has brought attention to the idea, but most still consider Rogers to be the primary candidate to bring American football into our Canadian backyard.
The move would complete the years-long campaign to get an NFL team into Canada, but is also fraught with snags and questions: the Bills price could be as high as $1 billion; getting them out of their current venue lease before 2020 would rack up another $400 million; and a new Toronto stadium could cost yet another $1 billion (possible locations: Downsview Park, Woodbine Racetrack). Plus, the Bills will not be available for purchase until 95-year-old owner Ralph Wilson passes away. And what about the CFL? Could the city support both the Toronto Bills and the Toronto Argos?
Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
Quoted: The poor guy from New York whose Twitter handle is @Rogers on last night’s nationwide service outage
The wrath of a thousand Canadians is a mighty sight. #rogersoutage
—Australian-born Brooklynite Glenn Rogers, holder of the @rogers Twitter handle, on t
he hundreds of furious tweets he received during yesterday’s hours-long service outage. (For the record, the telecommunications company’s account is @RogersHelps.) The tech exec told CP24 that he gets a raft of angry, 140-character missives every few months, but last night’s haul was the by far the most irate. Just wait until the angry hordes hear that Rogers (the company) once asked Rogers (the man) to donate his Twitter handle to it. [CP24]
Anyone who has battled Rogers can relate to this week’s South Park episode skewering the telecom industry’s record of crappy customer service. The
ridiculously long service windows, the insincere apologies, the corporate smugness…it all felt blood-boilingly familiar. So much so, in fact, that one Vimeo user uploaded an edited clip replacing the fictional Get Cable! logo with the Canadian conglomerate’s recognizable red circle. Sure, it won’t bring down Rogers, but the thought of their employees sporting removable nipple patches just might help you survive one more customer service call. [via Huffington Post]
UPDATE: This Vimeo clip has been taken down. YouTube still has the original version up here, though.
The newest tool in the war against phone snatchers: a country-wide blacklist to help deny cell service to stolen devices. Anyone whose phone is swiped or lost can, as of yesterday, report its IMEI number to their carrier to have it added to the Canadian database (to find a phone’s IMEI, enter *#06# or look on the white label under the battery). Participating service providers, which include Rogers, Bell, Telus and Wind Mobile, will not allow any blacklisted device to be used on their networks. Still willing to risk Craigslist’s secondhand phone market? Check the stolen IMEI database before handing over any cash. [CBC]
The reactions to the shocking end of Brian Burke’s tenure as the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs—and the slightly awkward beginning of Dave Nonis’—have been swift and varied. While MLSE insists the decision was months in the making, many are baffled it came just days before training camp when ownership could’ve made its move during the lockout. Speculation has also been rampant about who on MLSE’s board pushed hardest for the dramatic dismissal and predictions already abound about how Nonis’s regime will differ from Burke’s. Below, a roundup of comments from those closest to the deal—MLSE bigwigs, the most well-connected pundits and Leafs players. Plus, Rob Ford.
A high-stakes turf war is heating up between Rogers and Bell over the chance to provide television to Toronto’s ever-growing ranks of downtown condo-dwellers. For decades, bylaws prohibiting satellite dishes on condo balconies prevented Bell from selling its satellite TV in high-rises, leaving Rogers to sign exclusive deals with developers. But the landscape has changed: Rogers’ deals are now expiring and, with Fibe TV, Bell has traded in ugly satellites for discreet fiber optics cable. The company recently made its first major play, offering steep discounts on TV and PVR rentals (but buyer beware: the ultra-low rates expire after a year, and customers must also sign up for home phone and internet). Bell has even taken the unprecedented step of running fiber into single suites—some private residences at the Four Seasons are on Fibe—setting the precedent for a gritty customer-by-customer battle between it and Rogers. And here we thought the competitors were learning to play nice. [Globe and Mail]