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Rogers to cut jobs, end all OMNI newscasts

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Rogers Media Inc. is cutting approximately 100 positions from its conventional TV operations, and eliminating all newscasts on its multicultural OMNI stations, as it grapples with spiralling losses at its City and OMNI broadcasters.

Staff across the country are receiving pink slips Thursday, with the brunt of the cuts coming at the troubled OMNI operations and stations in the West.

The multilingual stations currently air newscasts in Cantonese, Mandarin, Punjabi, and Italian. They have faced increasing pressure from newscasts originating abroad.

The Rogers Media unit of Toronto-based Rogers Communications Inc. lost $85.8-million before interest and taxes in its conventional TV operations last year, according to documents filed with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. That was more than half of the $138-million in total losses suffered by Canada’s privately owned conventional TV stations last year, up sharply from $2-million in losses in 2013.

During a presentation to the CRTC one year ago, Keith Pelley, the president of Rogers Media, said OMNI “is in a financial crisis” as ad revenues had plummeted more than 50 per cent in only two years, dropping from more than $80-million in 2011 to less than $35-million in the 2013-14 broadcast year.

Most of OMNI’s revenues had come from ad sales on U.S. programs such as Two and a Half Men and The Simpsons, which have become more widely available in syndication and on streaming services. Mr. Pelley said that those ad revenues had subsidized the ethnic and third-language news and information programming.

More to come.

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