Rogers CommunicationsThe 24-hour news channel market in Canada is about to get more crowded. Rogers Communications Inc. is launching a new specialty network, CityNews Channel, in October. The company already runs a 24-hour news radio station – 680 News – in markets such as Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver, and broadcasts local TV newscasts across the country. It also publishes weekly news magazine Maclean’s and other magazines such as Hello! Canada and Today’s Parent. All of those brands will contribute to the new channel.

When you start talking about integration, it started to make sense,” president of Rogers Broadcasting, Scott Moore, said in an interview Monday.

That means existing staff from Rogers’ magazines, its local TV news broadcasts, and its radio stations will be expected to do on-air news reports or commentary on the new station. Sports news will come from Rogers Sportsnet staff. The business plan for the launch of CityNews calls for hiring fewer than 25 people, Mr. Moore said.

CityNews is also borrowing the 680 News format from its radio properties – airing traffic and weather reports “on the ones” every 10 minutes, sports reports at 15 and 45 minutes after every hour, and other regularly scheduled features.

The trend in all-news has been to do more live, breaking news and stay with it, which works for the big networks, but for local news, you want to know, what’s my drive to work look like, how’s the weather,” Mr. Moore said. “And we can do breaking news with that.

The channel will start out with a focus on Toronto. That local news format puts the station in direct competition with CP24, a Toronto-focused all-news cable channel. Before the CityNews channel licence was granted in December, 2008, then-owner of CP24, CTVglobemedia Inc., complained to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission that such a channel would compete too directly with CP24.

The CRTC disagreed. That same year, it opened up news and sports channels in Canada to more competition, saying those genres were robust enough to tolerate new players.

The cable all-news channel format is now expanding rapidly in Canada.

In April, Quebecor Inc. launched its own English-language 24-hour news channel, Sun News, which aims to challenge existing networks CBC News Network and CTV News Channel with more opinionated, right-leaning coverage. CTV’s parent company, BCE Inc., also owns CP24 – although the channel was originally launched in the 1990s by CITY-TV’s former owner, CHUM Ltd., before it was bought by CTVglobemedia and the CITY stations sold off to Rogers, in 2007.

“This isn’t something that’s new for us,” Rogers Media president Keith Pelley said in an interview Monday. “We have the history of City News Everywhere, and we thought, let’s start with Toronto and, fingers crossed, we’ll expand across the country.”

Susan Krashinsky – The Globe and Mail

Interesting to note that Bell Media announced in Playback that Joanne McDonald, former CTV executive, is now in charge of ramping up their 24 hour news station CP24 to complete with Rogers and the other 24 hour news channels. It sure to be an interesting fall for news junkies in Alberta and across Canada.