Rogers Media’s new national multilingual channel OMNI Regional debuted Sept. 1 with half hour, daily national newscasts in Cantonese, Italian, Mandarin, and Punjabi. Regionally-focused, weekday current affairs programs are also being produced locally in Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver. Focus Cantonese, Focus Mandarin and Focus Punjabi offer provincial, municipal, healthcare and business news. In Quebec, Rogers has partnered with independent ethnic broadcaster ICI Television to offer local information, lifestyle and entertainment programming on the channel, in both French and English. Branded as ICI Television in Quebec, it will also carry OMNI’s daily, national newscasts. OMNI Regional is being offered nationally on all digital basic television packages with top stories from the day available online at omninews.ca.
UNIFOR, the union representing OMNI workers, says it plans to file complaints with both the CRTC and Rogers over the contracting out of Chinese-language broadcasts to Vancouver-based Fairchild Television. The union says the company is trying to save money by subcontracting to the lower-paying Fairchild and that the definition of “produced” under the conditions of OMNI Regional’s licence need to be clarified. While Rogers says it retains full editorial control over the newscasts, the Chinese & South Asian Legal Clinic is among those voicing concerns about handing news production off to a competitor in a medium with limited voices. Critics from the Chinese community have likened Fairchild’s conservative leanings to Fox News.
The CRTC has approved an application from Shaw Communications, on behalf of Shaw Cablesystems and Star Choice, exempting it from having to distribute OMNI television stations as part of the basic service of its broadcasting distribution undertakings (BDUs) in Ontario, Alberta and BC, and of its direct-to-home satellite BDU Shaw Direct for Southern Ontario. They’ll instead distribute the regional feeds of OMNI Regional, which will provide the same programming. Similarly Quebecor Media, on behalf of Videotron, is relieved from distributing ICI (International Channel/Canal International) as part of the basic service. The condition will expire if the mandatory order for the distribution of OMNI Regional is no longer in effect.
The CRTC has released statistical and financial summaries for individual discretionary and on-demand services. Among the most dramatic showings are a 22 per cent decline in revenue for Rogers On Demand, from $47.2 million to $36.5 million. M3 (formerly MuchMoreMusic) posted a 15.5 per cent revenue decline, while Sportsnet (formerly Rogers Sportsnet) posted a 48.3 per cent gain in revenue to $545 million. You can read the full report here.
Sportsnet Central Montreal, City Montreal’s weekly half-hour sports panel discussion show, has been cancelled. In a statement, Rogers Media said it’s evolving its local strategy with the coming launch of the daily CityNews newscast in Winter 2018. Rogers says City will continue to provide coverage of Montreal sports teams and events on Breakfast Television, in addition to the new daily newscast. Sportsnet Central host Elias Makos will remain with City as the new media producer and fill-in host and weather presenter on Breakfast Television.
TVO has officially launched two of its Ontario Hubs, a new journalism initiative focusing on in-depth analysis of regional issues that impact communities across the province. Funded through The Barry and Laurie Green Family Charitable Trust & Goldie Feldman, the initiative will see four new staff journalists embedded in communities across Ontario who will create and lead networks of freelancers and contributors. The Hubs team will create articles for tvo.org, segments for The Agenda with Steve Paikin every Friday, and short documentaries. Two of four hubs were launched this week – one covering Northwestern Ontario, based in Thunder Bay; and a second hub covering Southwestern Ontario, based in London. Two additional hubs will be announced later this fall.
Production has begun in Toronto on the inaugural season of CTV’s new original music series The Launch. Fergie and OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder, joined by music mogul Scott Borchetta, are the first group of musical mentors shaping the creation of new releases by undiscovered artists. After an international casting call and extensive A & R process that reviewed more than 10,000 emerging performers, 30 have been selected to participate in the new six-part, hour-long series, debuting early next year on CTV. The network says the format is being readied for international roll-out.
MTV Canada’s fall lineup has been refreshed with reboots of MTV Unplugged and TRL. Canadian Shawn Mendes will be first to perform on the reinvented MTV Unplugged on Sept. 8. Returning to MTV for the first time since 2008, video request show TRL will air weekdays, beginning Oct. 2. New fall premieres include music videographer Rory Kramer’s thrill-seeking adventures with musicians like Iggy Azalea and Justin Bieber in Dare To Live. 90’s House features Lance Bass, Christina Milian and 12 millennials reliving the “most rad decade ever.”
Space has renewed its original series Killjoys for Seasons 4 and 5. The two-season, 20-episode pickup will act as the final chapters for the Space drama. Season 4 is slated to begin production in Toronto in 2018.
Discovery is marking the planned demise of NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft with original special Saturn: Inside The Rings, produced by Exploration Production Inc. (EPI) and anchored by Daily Planet co-host Dr. Dan Riskin. Airing on Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT, the special will deliver raw coverage of the final moments of the Cassini team’s two-decade mission and the spacecraft from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, CA.
The Directors Guild of Canada has announced the 15 nominees for the 2017 DGC Discovery Award. The nominees include Carlos & Jason Sanchez (A Worthy Companion); Sadaf Foroughi (Ava); Cory Bowles (Black Cop); Cody Brown (Gregoire); Stephen S. Campanelli (Indian Horse); Wayne Wapeemukwa (Luk’Luk’l); Kathleen Hepburn (Never Steady, Never Still); Kyle Rideout (Public Schooled); Jordan Canning (Suck It Up); Jamie M. Dagg (Sweet Virginia); Seth Smith (The Crescent); Sophie Goyette (Still Night, Still Light); Winston DeGiobbi (Mass for Shut-Ins); Sofia Bohdanowicz (Maison du Bonheur); and Ian Lagarde (All You Can Eat Buddha). The 16th edition of the DGC Awards will be presented at the annual Gala on Oct. 28 at The Carlu in Toronto, hosted by Mary Walsh.
Quebecor and TVA Sports are the major sponsor and official broadcaster of the 8th edition of the Grands Prix Cyclistes de Québec et de Montréal (GPCQM). Featuring 160 riders from 30 countries, the event takes place Sept. 8 in Québec City and Sept. 10 in Montréal, the only North American stops on the UCI WorldTour. Announcer Michel Godbout and analyst Randy Ferguson will be in the booth, while Yvan Martineau will provide coverage on the ground.