Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Winnipeg TV Stations Part 1

From a Winnipeg perspective, one TV station has been a virtual non-entity in terms of local content. That station is OMNI 11 which as of September 1 will be JOYTV.

It was licenced to Trinity Television in 2002 as a religious broadcaster. Just as it was about to go on the air, Rogers bought the station and folded it into its Omni group of stations. While Onni Toronto was a cultural station that delivered news made in Toronto in a variety of the languages of the city, Winnipeg's Omni was religious broadcasting that was mostly produced elsewhere. Both stations padded the rest of their hours with American syndicated programs and an outrageous amount of paid programming.

In 2007, Rogers Communications bought Citytv which included its Winnipeg affiliate, the former MTN. CTVglobemedia had acquired the station in 2006, thereby giving them two stations in Winnipeg. At the time of the takeover, the station was called A Channel.

The Craig family, owners of A Channel had run into trouble in 2003-2004 with labour issues at their Edmonton A-Channel affiliate. Combined with the ongoing trouble keeping its Toronto 1 station afloat, the family looked for an exit. Toronto 1, awarded by the CRTC in 2001 had first looked to be a perfect fit for the growing network of station owned by the Craigs. Instead, it was money loser that dragged the company down.

It was CHUM that came knocking in 2004 with a $265 million buy-out. The Craigs gave up their attempt at another national network and handed the baton to CTV.

The first thing that happened upon the takeover was the axing of the local Citytv news. It seems astounding that it was allowed to happen by the CRTC.

The CRTC had bigger fish to fry. They effectively told CTV they couldn't own Citytv and CTV stations in the same city and forced them to sell off the division. CTV kept the other parts of the CHUM empire and Rogers Communications stepped in to buy the Citytv network.

And all this lead back to Winnipeg's Onni, Channel 11 station. Rogers Communications ended up running into the same problem CTV did: owning two stations in the same market.

The CRTC once again weighed in and forced Rogers to sell one of the two stations they owned in Winnipeg. That station was Omni.

(to be continued)

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