On September 7, CJNT-TV was rebranded as E! This change was in line with the other CH Network affiliates in Canada, and followed a content-sharing agreement earlier in the year with the U.S.-based E! Networks. Much of the primetime programming was retained, with the balance a mix of celebrity news and lifestyle shows. One of the most significant changes was the renaming of local newscasts to “CJNT News”, returning to identification with the station’s historic call letters.
The early months of the year saw CanWest needing to renegotiate many of its lending agreements in an effort to avoiding having to seek creditor protection, as the Canadian economy weakened, and economies had to be effected.. On February 5th, CanWest said it was exploring the possibility of selling off some its stations, including CJNT.
On April 27th the CRTC began hearings to consider CanWest's applications for various OTA licence renewals, along with similar applications from several other major broadcasting entities.
On May 15th, the CRTC announced a one-year licence renewal, effective September 1st 2009, for all of CanWest's Over-The-Air stations, including CJNT-TV, "....to give these broadcasters some flexibility during the current period of economic uncertainty." Group-based licence renewals would then be addressed in the spring of 2010. The Commission also stated that it recognized the impracticability of imposing any conditions relative to 1-1 ratios between Canadian and non-Canadian programming in the ensuing year, given the programming commitments that were already in place.
The Commission would however continue to explore various regulatory measures "...to ensure that English-language television broadcasters devote an appropriate proportion of their expenditures to Canadian programming."
On June 30th, it was announced that Canwest Television Limited had entered into an agreement to sell CHCH-TV Hamilton and CJNT-TV Montreal to an affiliated company of television broadcaster Channel Zero, subject to CRTC approval and to the willingness of CH-TV's employees collective bargaining unit to agree to provide a minimum of one year of labour stability for the new owners. This would involve discussions with the Communications, Energy & Paperworkers Union of Canada. The offer to purchase included commitments to maintain 13.5 hours of local ethnic programming per week in Montreal, and 36.5 hours per week of local programming at CHCH-TV Hamilton.
Channel Zero were the owners of the specialty channels Movieola and Silver Screen Classics.
On July 6th, in renewing CJNT-TV's licence for a further year, September 1st 2009 to August 31st 2010, the CRTC denied Canwest's request for permission to reduce the amount of different ethnic programming the station was expected to carry.
,On August 28th the CRTC approve the acquisition of CJNT-TV, as well as CHCH-TV, by the Channel Zero group, through a numbered company, 2209005 Ontario Inc , and renewed the station's licence through to August 31st 2016. This renewal term was ..."conditional on the licensee presenting itself at a hearing to be held in 2012 to discuss the inclusion of French-language programming in time periods devoted to non-ethnic programming."
In announcing their approval, the Commission noted that the transaction was negative (because the agreed price for the two stations was only $12), and said that in the circumstances there would be no requirement for a tangible benefits package.
The CRTC approved the amendment to the licence for CJNT-TV to add a post-transition digital television transmitter on channel 49 with an effective radiated power of 4,000 watts (non-directional). The existing CTV-owned tower would be used with effective height of 219 metres. Programming would be received by fibre optic.
The deadline for the conversion of analog television to digital in mandatory markets was August 31. CJNT-TV made the transition early. On August 27, analog CJNT-TV channel 62 was shut down and replaced by CJNT-DT channel 49 (virtual channel 62.1).
Brian Kenemy, the one-time General Manager of the former 940 AM/Q92 Montreal and who joined CJNT-TV (Metro 14) in sales just over a year ago, was hired by Rogers (Citytv/ OMNI), also in sales. Rogers expected CRTC approval shortly for the purchase of CJNT.
On December 20, the CRTC approved the application by Rogers Broadcasting Limited for authority to acquire from 2209005 Ontario Inc. the assets of CJNT-DT, an ethnic television programming undertaking in Montréal and for a broadcasting licence to continue the operation of the station. The Commission also approved the conversion of CJNT-DT into an English-language conventional television station.
Rogers was owned and controlled by Rogers Communications Inc. Rogers stated that it was prepared to commit to Canadian programming expenditure and programs of national interest requirements consistent with those currently imposed on its Citytv services. In Broadcasting Decision 2012-696, also issued this date, the Commission approved the application by 4517466 Canada Inc. for a multilingual ethnic television programming undertaking in Montréal to be known as ICI (International Channel/Canal International). As part of its proposal for an English-language television station, Rogers indicated that it would offer unique local programming in the form of a morning show that would air from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and that would be oriented towards the Montréal community. This program would offer a mix of local news, information and entertainment programming focused on the Montréal market. Rogers also proposed a weekly half-hour sports program dedicated to local professional, amateur, university, CÉGEP and junior league sports in the greater Montréal area. Rogers argued that the conversion of CJNT-DT into an English-language television station would give Citytv an over-the-air presence in Montréal and as such would represent an important step towards addressing its lack of national coverage. In this respect, Rogers submitted that national coverage was necessary to compete with larger, national over-the-air broadcasting networks. Finally, Rogers stated that its proposal would allow the repatriation of viewing from U.S. services, resulting in more advertising revenue flowing into the Canadian broadcasting system.
Effective with the start of the new year, Citytv quietly dropped the ‘TV' from the end of its brand name - right across the country. The stations were now simply known as City. Rogers, noting that it wasn't just TV anymore, revamped the on-air imagery, advertising and logos.
Bob Babinski was hired as executive producer/local content manager at City Montreal. He had more than 25 years of TV experience, on and off camera.
Written by Bill Dulmage - Updated May 2013