In its first official expansion in recent years, a new Citytv outlet is set to launch on July 1.
Citytv operator Rogers Media has received approval from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for its acquisition of Saskatchewan Communications Network (SCN) from Bluepoint Investment Inc., and the deal is expected to close later this month.
Independent producers and digital media creators in the province are expected to benefit from cash injections by Rogers into programming acquisition funds as part of the approval.
Citytv Saskatchewan has already been operating out of Regina, and will continue to do so with support from the extended Citytv and Rogers Media family. HD will be offered within the coming year, Rogers Media reports. The SCN.ca website also offers full episodes of Citytv programming for online viewing.
Citytv also plans to expand in the Montreal market, pending regulatory approval, and Citytv programming recently became available long-term in three key markets in Western Canada – Kamloops, B.C., Prince George, B.C., and Medicine Hat, AB. – under an agreement Rogers signed with the Jim Pattison Group.
By the fall, Citytv plans to be in eight provinces and reach nine million homes.
Rogers and SCN had earlier struck a program supply agreement, which took effect January 2012, in which SCN airs Citytv programming from 3 p.m. to 6 a.m. each day. Maintaining all of SCN’s educational broadcast obligations, Citytv Saskatchewan will continue to air commercial-free educational content during the 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. time block.
Throughout the remainder of the day, Citytv Saskatchewan will air original and acquired Citytv programming, including Cityline, America’s Got Talent, Modern Family, and the upcoming The Bachelor Canada, as well as Saskatchewan productions such as The Neighbors Dog, 15 Minutes of Fame, and The Edge of War.
Sasktel has taken over the satellite infrastructure and services previously provided by SCN.
“This is a vital step in the evolution of the Citytv brand, as we continue to aggressively pursue national distribution for our world-class content. In this competitive landscape, it is paramount to expand Citytv’s reach to better serve Canadians and engage audiences across the country. We won’t stop until we reach our goal of becoming a fully national network,” said Scott Moore, President, Broadcast, Rogers Media. “With its growing economy, Saskatchewan is exactly the right market for the Citytv brand and we’re excited to grow this service and become an active and integrated member of this robust community.”
Under the CRTC’s terms for approval, Rogers will have to spend 23 per cent of its gross annual revenues to acquire Canadian programming, including educational programming, from independent producers in Saskatchewan.
Rogers will also support the creation of digital media by directing $300,000 to the Rogers Digital Development Fund.
“The Saskatchewan Communications Network’s educational, cultural and public information programs are an important facet of the province’s broadcasting landscape,” said Leonard Katz, the CRTC’s Vice-Chairman of Telecommunications and Chair of the hearing panel. “This transaction will enable SCN to continue to support the local independent production
community for years to come.”
Rogers says it is already working with the local Saskatchewan production community to produce TV content, and will work with creators to provide them both a regional and national platform across Rogers Media’s suite of assets.
The CRTC has renewed the SCN’s licence until August 31, 2018.