Omni Television

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For the television network in the United States, see Omni Broadcasting Network.
Omni Television
Type Broadcast television system
Country Canada
Availability Semi-national (Greater Montreal, Southern Ontario, Southwestern B.C./Lower Mainland, Alberta)
Slogan Diversity Television
Owner Rogers Media
(Rogers Broadcasting Ltd.)
Key people
Scott Moore - President of Broadcasting, Rogers Media
Launch date
September 3, 1979 (independent Toronto station)
September 16, 2002 (launch of the Omni system)
Former names
CFMT International / Channel 47/Cable 4 (1979–2002, independent)
Sister channels
Conventional:
City
Specialty:
CityNews Channel
Sportsnet
G4
OLN
FX Canada
The Biography Channel
Official website
Omni Television

Omni Television (corporately styled as OMNI Television) is a Canadian television system that is owned by the Rogers Media division of Rogers Communications. It currently consists of all six of Canada's conventional multicultural television stations, which are located in Ontario (two stations), British Columbia, Alberta (two stations) and Quebec (as a secondary affiliate). In addition, Rogers also briefly operated religious television stations in the Vancouver and Winnipeg television markets under the "Omni" brand before divesting them in 2008.

Derived from the Latin word “omnis” meaning “all”, "Omni" is not an acronym, although the name is written all in capital letters.[1]

History[edit]

Toronto's CFMT launched in 1979 as Canada's first free, over-the-air multilingual/multicultural television station, owned by Multilingual Television (Toronto) Ltd. As its initial format was 100% ethnic, the station experienced financial difficulties, and was on the verge of bankruptcy when Rogers stepped in and purchased it in 1986. Rogers then attempted to launch a similar multicultural station in Vancouver in 1996,[2] 1999[3] and 2002,[4] but none of its applications to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) were successful. It was, however, given a second multicultural licence in Toronto,[5] and launched CJMT as a sister station to CFMT in fall 2002 to provide room for additional multicultural programming. It was at this point that the "OMNI Television" brand was introduced, with CFMT and CJMT branded as "OMNI.1" and "OMNI.2" respectively.

The Omni brand was expanded in 2005, when Rogers acquired two religious TV stations, CHNU in the Vancouver market and CIIT in Winnipeg, from Trinity Television. CHNU was rebranded from "NOWTV" to "OMNI.10" in September 2005, while CIIT went on air as "OMNI.11" on February 6, 2006.

2007 realignment[edit]

Several proposed changes to the Omni system were announced, either by Rogers or by the CRTC, during a one-month span from June to July 2007. First, on June 8, the CRTC granted Rogers licenses to operate new multicultural stations in Calgary and Edmonton, beating out a competing proposal from Multivan Broadcast Corporation (which won the bid for the Vancouver multicultural license in 2002 against Rogers and launched CHNM-TV).

On June 28, Rogers made public its offer to sell the religious-licensed Omni stations in Winnipeg and Vancouver as part of its contemporaneous purchase of Citytv (which the CRTC ordered CTVglobemedia to sell them off as part of the CHUM Limited takeover deal). Rogers indicated, however, that it viewed retaining the multilingual licences in Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton (effectively creating twinsticks in those three markets) as compatible with CRTC policy, since they are licensed to serve a different programming niche than the general interest Citytv stations.[6]

On July 7, Rogers announced an agreement to purchase the aforementioned CHNM, finally securing a true multicultural television licence in Vancouver.[7] The fact that Rogers had acquired the Calgary and Edmonton multicultural licences, beating out Multivan's competing applications, was cited as a major reason for the sale.

On September 28, the CRTC approved Rogers' takeover of the Citytv stations, giving the company one year to divest itself of the religious Omni stations. A tentative deal to sell the stations to S-VOX, owner of VisionTV, was announced on November 6. On March 31, 2008, the CRTC approved both Rogers' acquisition of CHNM[8] and its sale of CIIT and CHNU to S-VOX.[9] CHNU was rebranded as "CHNU 10" on October 31, 2007, a year before the Omni brand was transferred to CHNM. CIIT was rebranded "CIIT11" in July 2008, after S-VOX took control of the station. Both stations rebranded as Joytv on September 1, 2008; CHNM rebranded as "Omni BC" on the same date. The two new stations in Calgary and Edmonton launched on September 15, 2008 under the call letters CJCO and CJEO.

Recent developments[edit]

Rogers announced an agreement to acquire the one Canadian multicultural television station it did not already own, CJNT-DT Montreal on May 3, 2012,[10] from Channel Zero, after having passed on the opportunity when the station was previously put up for sale in 2009 by Canwest during its financial difficulties.[11] While intending to relaunch it as a Citytv station, Rogers did not rule out the possibility of requesting that CJNT be re-licensed as an English-language station,[12] but in the meantime CJNT aired Omni programs (including Omni News) to fulfill much of its ethnic programming requirements after it became affiliated with Citytv prior to the sale.[13] As part of the sale, Rogers requested that the CRTC convert CJNT to an English-language station, on the condition that it provide services and resources to ICI, a newly proposed, locally-owned multicultural station. Both were approved by the CRTC on December 20, 2012.[14][15]

On May 30, 2013, Rogers announced cutbacks at Omni – including the cancellation of its South Asian newscast, and the shutdown of production facilities at CJCO and CJEO, ending the production of local programming and news content from the Omni Alberta stations.[16]

Programming[edit]

All Rogers-owned Omni stations are licensed to air programming in no less than 20 languages to communities encompassing at least 20 cultures—ethnic programming comprises 60% of the Omni stations' schedules. The Toronto-based Omnis are differently licensed with respect to the languages and communities they serve: CFMT airs programming for European and Caribbean language communities, while CJMT airs programming for the Pan-Asian and Pan-African audiences.

The remainder of their lineups, particularly in the daytime and early evening hours, are programmed similarly to independent stations and consist of mainstream syndicated sitcoms and talk shows (such as Access Hollywood Live, How I Met Your Mother, Rachael Ray, and Two and a Half Men). In essence, these English-language programs serve to attract advertising revenue, which can then be used to finance the multicultural programs. The Omni stations have historically aired multicultural programming as part of their primetime lineup, as opposed to the simulcasts of U.S. series carried by other Canadian networks such as City. However, in recent years, Omni stations have occasionally aired U.S. programming in primetime in the event of scheduling conflicts with City. As of the 2013-14 season, the only American programs regularly aired in simulcast by Omni are the U.S. late-night talk shows Late Show with David Letterman and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (both in simulcast with CBS).

While under Rogers ownership, CHNU and CIIT aired many of the same types of programs as CFMT and CJMT, despite the difference in the nature of service of multicultural and religious stations. CHNU and CIIT had previously aired many of the same types of syndicated sitcoms and multicultural programs shown regularly on the Omni stations in Toronto, and the Toronto stations carried some religious teaching programs. The common brand allowed cost savings for promotions and for the acquisition of the general-entertainment programs that all of the Omni stations had used to generate most of their revenues. However, due in particular to Vancouver multicultural station CHNM (while under Multivan ownership) and Toronto religious station CITS, which both opposed Rogers's acquisition of Trinity's religious stations, the Omni stations' core formats remained intact.

News[edit]

Further information: Omni News

Omni currently produces national newscasts in Punjabi. In addition, the Omni stations in Toronto and Vancouver produce regional newscasts in the following languages five days a week:

Omni Alberta (CJCO/CJEO) also produced newscasts in Cantonese, Mandarin and English (for the South Asian edition) from its launch in 2008 until 2011.

The news programming consists of both Canadian news translated into the language, and news feeds from countries in which the language is natively spoken (or the Indian subcontinent, in the case of the Punjabi edition).

Omni Television stations[edit]

Owned-and-operated stations[edit]

City of license/market Station Channel
TV (RF)
Calgary, Alberta CJCO-DT 38.1 (38)
Edmonton, Alberta CJEO-DT 56.1 (44)
Toronto, Ontario CFMT-DT 47.1 (47)
CJMT-DT 69.1 (51)
Vancouver, British Columbia CHNM-DT 42.1 (20)

Secondary carriers[edit]

City of licence/market Station Channel
TV (RF)
Year of
affiliation
Owner
Montreal, Quebec CFHD-DT 47.1 (47) 2013 4517466 Canada Inc. (Nowrouzzahrai Family)

Omni HD[edit]

In the fall of 2004, Omni launched high definition simulcasts of both Toronto stations, CFMT and CJMT. However, at the time both stations were only available through digital cable. In the summer of 2008, both stations began broadcasting digitally over-the-air. In December 2009, CHNM began broadcasting an over-the-air digital signal and broadcasts in standard definition.

Footnotes[edit]

External links[edit]