Ontario, Toronto and Vicinity

CFMT-DT (Omni 1), Toronto

, Rogers Broadcasting Ltd.

1977
Three applicants fought it out for the right to have Canada's first multilingual television station, at Toronto using channel 45. Leon Kossar, founder of Toronto's annual international "Caravan" festival would use an effective radiated power of 1,119,000 watts. MTV Broadcasters Ltd. proposed using a power of 693,000 watts. MTV was headed by CHIN Radio's Johnny Lombardi. He was also known for organizing concerts and for Toronto's annual CHIN International Picnic. The third applicant was Multilingual Television (Toronto) Ltd., headed by Dan Iannuzzi, publisher of the daily newspaper Corriere Canadese. His family founded the newspaper and it grew to be the largest Italian daily outside of Italy. Iannuzzi proposed using an effective radiated power of 104,000 watts. All three applications were turned down.

1978
The CRTC again accepted applications for a multilingual TV station in Toronto. This time there was a winner. Dan Ianuzzi's Multilingual Television (Toronto) Ltd. won the licence on December 27. Competing applications by Heritage Broadcasters Ltd. (formerly MTV Broadcasters Ltd.) and Leon Kossar (OBCI) were denied. Multilingual Television was formed by Dan Iannuzzi and his brother Paul. Together, they controlled 36% of the voting shares of MTV, directly or through family holding company, Daisons Communications Inc. The remainder of the licensee's shares were held by approximately 35 other shareholders, none with more than 4% of the total vote. Among the other shareholders were former CBLT news anchor Valerie Elia, architect Raymond Moriyama, Cineplex head Garth Drabinsky, and lawyer Jerry Grafstein (one of the founders of CITY-TV). Target date for launch: December 1979 or January 1980.

Daniel Iannuzzi started doing multicultural television for CITY-TV in 1972. He
was a journalist and also held a 5% interest in CITY. He gained all the experience he needed to be able to run his own station. What started out as four and a half hours a week of fringe multicultural programming on CITY, expanded eventually to 35 hours a week, in 12 languages.

Not less than 60% of the programming, both overall (6 a.m.-midnight) and prime time (6 p.m.-midnight), must be in languages other than English and French. Dubbed versions of U.S. shows would not qualify. The other 40% was not to be entirely in English, nor was it to include programs created for the commercial U.S. market. The usual Canadian content requirements for TV would apply (60% overall, 50% prime time). Programs produced outside of Canada which had lip-sync audio done in Canada, would qualify as 25% CanCon. The station would have an advisory council with broad representation from various ethnic groups.

1979
The station leased the former Loblaw building at the southeast corner of Bathurst Street and Lakeshore Boulevard (545 Lakeshore Boulevard West) for its studios and offices. The site was now owned by Harbourfront, the federal government complex that was the scene of many of the city's multicultural events. CFMT's parent company Daisons Communications got the lease on very favourable terms from the feds. CFMT-TV would also have a production centre in the Vaughan Theatre on St. Clair Avenue West.

On August 2, some technical changes were approved for the new station. The channel would be 47 rather than 45. Effective radiated power would be 807,000 watts rather than 104,000. The CN Tower would be used for the transmitter site instead of the originally proposed location at 2300 Yonge Street. The owners had proposed originally to operate from the Yonge Street site and then in about three years, move to the more expensive CN Tower. It was decided in the end to use the CN Tower right from the start.

On September 3, CFMT Channel 47 signed on the air. The call letters stood for Canada's First Multilingual Television. Dan Iannuzzi was president and executive producer. Jim Snelling, formerly of CITY-TV, was director of engineering. Harvey Rogers was operations manager. Nigel Napier Andrews was vice president for production. CFMT used a Townsend TA-55 NET UHF transmitter and the antenna was from EMI. Studio equipment came from a variety of sources but the station did buy a large package of used items from CJOH-TV in Ottawa.

Valerie Elia joined CFMT from CBLT where she had been a news anchor.

1980
CFMT soon encountered severe financial difficulties and required repeated infusions of new capital. Over time, other minority shareholders either declined or were unable to meet their share of MTV's additional capital requirements, and control of the licensee company passed to Daisons.

CFMT began broadcasting 24 hours a day.

International Cable of Buffalo announced full-time coverage of Toronto's MTV World Service to its 75,000 subscribers in Buffalo as of June 1. The company also announced a multi-tiered agreement under which International Cable had purchased 50% of MTV of America Inc., together with a "meaningful" equity position in CFMT-TV's parent company, Multilingual Television (Toronto) Ltd. International Cable president Peter Gilbert would be president of MTV of America while Dan Iannuzzi would serve as chairman of the board. MTV Broadcasting System was formed before CFMT began telecasting on September 3, 1979 as the vehicle to organize joint venture distribution of its World Service throughout Canada and the U.S.

1981
Due to a continuing need for funding to support the operations of MTV, Daisons became indebted to Seaway Trust.

On August 28, MTV aired a two hour retrospective of its 2-years of broadcasting hosted by president Dan Iannuzzi. The program included a review of CFMT's first moments on the air - including a a baptismal ceremony at St. Demetrius Greek Orthodox Church, and previewed programs to be aired in the coming season.

1982
Vin Dittmer of CHAY-FM  of Barrie became managing director (chief executive officer) of CFMT.

Jim West joined CFMT to handle marketing. This included satellite distribution of its multilingual programs - should such distribution be approved by the CRTC.

Jim McKenney (former Maple Leafs player) was now a colour man on CFMT's Canadian-Italian Hockey League games.

Valerie Elia returned to CBLT-TV.

MTV anticipated losses of $1 million for the year ending August 31, with revenues of $7.2 million. In the third year of deficits, CFMT expected to turn a profit by 1984.

On August 12, the CRTC approved an application that saw Dan Iannuzzi increase his share holding in CFMT to 57.4%. Until now, no individual shareholder controlled more than 50% of the voting shares. Iannuzzi was the largest shareholder, controlling 36% of the voting shares (10% directly and 26% through his control of Daisons Communications Inc., formerly Daisons Holdings Ltd.), while the next larged holder owned 4%. In today's decision, the CRTC noted it learned at the recent public hearing that a number of share transfers had taken place without prior Commission approval - the bulk of which happened between Oct of 1980 and January 1981. Iannuzzi had increased his direct and indirect holdings from 26 to 55%.

Late in the year, CFMT's banker, Seaway Trust, had its assets seized by the Ontario government and all of its borrowers were put into receivership.

One of the station's biggest problems was the fact that multilingual TV wasn't showing up on broadcast measurement scales (since the measuring was being done in English). This made it difficult to convince advertisers of the existence of an audience for the station.

1983
Canadian broadcast engineer Robert Cezar was expected to become a major partner in the re-organization of CFMT-TV. Multilingual TV Ltd. was controlled by Daisons Communications Inc., which went into receivership on October 4, 1982. Under the plan (subject to CRTC approval), Cezar would own 40% of Daisons and become chief executive officer of CFMT. Dan Iannuzzi would retain control of Daisons, and increase his interest in CFMT from 54% to 77%. Cezar would provide backing of $6.5 million - the amount owed by Seaway Trust by Daisons. Andrew Markle, whose interests include CHAY-FM in Barrie, was president of Seaway.

Cezar poured new money into the station. He was now president with David Ernest as CFO, Harry MacDonald as director of sales, Ed Ginglo as retail sales manager, Will Hawking as national sales manager, and Paul Iannuzzi as vice president and COO.

1984
Q107's Samantha Taylor was now hosing MTV's Video Singles program.

To avoid confusion with the American music channel, MTV returned to using its CFMT call letters.

Samantha Taylor left CFMT's music video show to host "Video Hits" on CBC.

Keith Elshaw was hosting "Video Singles Flipside" on CFMT.

1985 
Christine McNaughton, formerly with the CRTC, was now manager of corporate affairs at CFMT-TV.

Bob Pickell became national sales manager. He had been with the TVB.


CFMT announced plans to distribute its signal to cable systems via Anik D1 satellite. Dan Iannuzi said the service could begin as early as September under the CRTC's new distant signals policy. Initially, 14 major markets would be the target, and a company would be set up in each in partnership with CFMT to provide local programming and sell advertising time. Iannuzi said the plan would require carriage on the basic service by cable companies. One of the 14 markets in the CFMT plan was Windsor, Ontario, where the local cable system had been carrying CFMT since September of 1984. A poll of subscribers placed CFMT ahead of CITY-TV, A&E, CHCH and the Nashville Network.

CFMT became Canada's first stereo TV station on July 27. The equipment was supplied to CFMT by Canadian firm Gytek Inc. The station's chief engineer Pip Bola said it's estimated that in the next two years, 25% of Canadian homes would be equipped to receive stereo TV.

All cable systems 20 miles beyond the grade B contour of CFMT were now required to carry the station on the basic service. Before the change, CFMT was on 56 cable systems and its signal was microwaved to London and Windsor, as well as to Rochester, New York.

Seaway Trust offered Daison's assets, including its shares of MTV, for sale in September. The successful buyer was Multicom, the new company formed by Daniel and Paul Iannuzzi. Multicom's purchase of these assets was upheld both by the courts and by the CRTC. The purchase price was to have been met in large part through a private placement debenture. This financing, however, did not materialize.

Former CFMT account executive Jerry Morton returned to the station as assistant national sales manager.

1986
Mr. Iannuzzi faced a situation in which he stood to have the assets of Multicom, as well as those of the licensee company, sold unless a scheduled payment was repaid to the receiver of Seaway Trust by March 3. Consequently, Mr. Iannuzzi pursued negotiations with Ted Rogers to arrange for financial assistance. Just prior to the March 3 deadline, Rogers agreed to provide Multicom with the required cash, thereby preventing the liquidation of MTV. Rogers and Iannuzzi also negotiated the proposal where Rogers would acquire indirect control of approximately 73% of MTV.

On June 19, the CRTC approved the transfer of effective control of Multilingual Television (Toronto) Limited to Rogers Broadcasting Limited. It was a condition of approval, however, that the status of CFMT-TV as an ethnic television station, as defined in its conditions of licence, be maintained. The transfer would result from the issue of shares representing 80% of the outstanding voting shares of Daisons Multicom Inc. to Rogers. Multicom owned approximately 73% of the voting shares of MTV and was itself controlled by Daniel A. Iannuzzi. As a result of this transaction, control of both Multicom and the licensee company would pass to RBL. Rogers owned CFTR-AM and CHFI-FM in Toronto at this time.

CFMT's proposal to provide a national service via satellite was denied by the CRTC on financial grounds. The Commission urged MTV and other groups to pursue such a service though.

National sales manager Bob Pickell lost his battle with cancer. He was 59.


1986-87
Dan Iannuzzi named James B. MacDonald as station manager and director of operations at CFMT.

1987
Peter Foley was promoted to general sales manager at CFMT.

CFMT's licence was renewed for five years. While commending the station for its pioneering role, the CRTC noted certain shortfalls, notably a failure to reach its required minimum of 60% ethnic programming. Canadian content levels were reduced for the new licence term. The Commission noted that CFMT's financial health has improved considerably.

With the move of Dick Smyth from CHUM-AM to CFTR-AM, his television commentaries moved from CITY to CFMT.

Beverly J. Oda was appointed manager of Multiculturalism and Public Affairs.

Ed Lelivre was retail sales manager.

1988
Dan Iannuzzi resigned as president of MTV. He would remain as a director. He was replaced on the executive committee by Joseph Sorbara. Acting president and CEO was Jim Sward.

Dick Smyth was senior editor and commentator for CFMT-TV and for CFTR-AM.

1989
Peter Foley, 37, general sales manager of CFMT-TV, died in the July 20 crash of United Airlines flight 232 at Sioux City, Iowa. He had been with the station since

The Harvard Business School Club of Toronto named Ted Rogers, 1989 Canadian Business Statesman of the Year. The president and CEO of Rogers Communications Inc., was cited for providing Canadians with a wide range of TV viewing options and for demonstrating a rare combination of vision and management ability that helped place Canada on the leading edge of communications technology.

James MacDonald was appointed vice-president of sales and station manager, while Leslie Sole was named vice-president of programming and marketing.

1992
CFMT computerized its news department and began providing closed captioning of all of its news originations.

1993
On February 10, CFMT-TV was given permission to add a transmitter at London, operating on channel 69 with an effective radiated power of 729,500 watts.

CFMT announced it had acquired the Canadian rights to 1994 World Cup Soccer in languages other than English and French.

On September 28, approval came for CFMT to add a transmitter at Ottawa, operating on channel 60 with an effective radiated power of 573,000 watts. The station would establish an Ottawa news bureau with one reporter and one camera operator. With the addition of the London and Ottawa transmitters, CFMT would now cover 77.5% of Ontario's population.

1995
On March 1, the CRTC approved a licence amendment for CFMT-TV concerning the airing of infomercials. In addition to the 12 minutes of advertising material permitted by subsection 11(1) of the Television Broadcasting Regulations, 1987, the licensee may broadcast more than 12 minutes of advertising material in any clock hour in a broadcast day, in order to broadcast infomercials as defined in Public Notice CRTC 1994-139 and in accordance with the criteria contained in that public notice, as amended.

1999
CFMT and Carsey-Werner International reached an exclusive South East Asian marketing alliance to encompass all CFMT international productions.

2001
Ted Rogers, 67, announced plans to step down in January, 2004 as president/CEO of Rogers Communications Inc., and then begin a five year consulting contract with the company.

2002

CJMT-TV OMNI 2 signed on the air September 16, operating on channel 44. A short time later, CFMT channel 47 became known as OMNI 1.

2004
On September 29, Rogers Broadcasting Ltd. was authorized to decrease the average effective radiated power for CFMT-TV-2 Ottawa from 664,700 to 626,000 watts and to relocate the antenna to the opposite side of the transmitting tower at Manotick. The changes would increase the coverage area in Ottawa and Gatineau, and result in CFMT-TV-2 reaching a slightly larger audience.

Daniel Andrea Iannuzzi died November 20 at age 70 while visiting Rome. Ianuzzi founded CFMT – Canada’s first multilingual television station.

2005
On May 19, CFMT was authorized to add a transitional digital television programming undertaking in Ottawa, operating on channel 27C with an average effective radiated power of 7,090 watts. 

2008
Early on the morning of December 2nd, Ted Rogers, founder and former Chief Executive of Rogers Communications, owners of CFMT-TV, died at his home in Toronto, after having suffered from congestive heart failure for some time.

2009
On August 19 the CRTC renewed CFMT-TV's (OMNI. 1) licence until August 31, 2015. The renewal included rebroadcast transmitters in London and Ottawa, and CFMT-DT and its transmitter in Ottawa. The Commission approves the request by Rogers Broadcasting Limited to harmonize its requirement for the provision of Canadian programming across all of its OMNI stations, to amend CJMT-TV's requirement for the provision of ethnic programming in order to harmonize it with the conditions of licence applicable to the other OMNI stations and to eliminate the restrictions on the broadcast of non-Canadian, non-ethnic programming during specific broadcast periods for CFMT-TV and CJMT-TV. The Commission denies Rogers' proposal to harmonize across all of its OMNI stations the requirement to broadcast ethnic programming during "peak" time and its request to remove the conditions of licence relating to the overlap of programming between OMNI and Citytv stations. The Commission approves Rogers' request to harmonize across all of its OMNI stations the requirement to provide programming to a minimum of 20 distinct ethnic groups in a minimum of 20 distinct languages monthly and approves an amended requirement that no more than 16% of the programming be in any one foreign language during each broadcast month. However, the Commission denies Rogers' request to remove the restriction relating to the overlap of ethnic programs in a foreign language on CJMT-TV and CFMT-TV during the same broadcast year. Among the conditions of licence: The licensee shall devote to the broadcasting of ethnic programs: a) not less than 60% of the total number of hours broadcast monthly between 6 a.m. and midnight; b) not less than 50% of the total number of hours broadcast monthly between 6 p.m. and midnight; and c) not less than 75% of the total number of hours broadcast annually between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Among the list of expectations: The Commission notes that its Ottawa news bureau has become, in the eyes of CFMT-TV's diverse audiences an important element of the service that the station delivers. The Commission expects the licensee to maintain its support of the bureau's activities.

CITY-TV, CFMT-TV (Omni.1) and CJMT (Omni.2) moved to a new home at Yonge-Dundas Square. The location was once home to Olympic Spirit, a showcase for sport. CFMT and CJMT relocated from Lakeshore Boulevard West, near Bathurst Street. CITY-TV had been located in the CHUM/CITY Building at 299 Queen Street West (still owned by CTV). The new location features a street-level studio that looks on to the square. The technical components for the stations are shared, but CITY and OMNI are distinct. Master Control remained at Lakeshore Blvd. W., along with supporting satellite & dub facilities, program library and station administration. 

2010
Keith Pelley, president of Rogers Media, announced the appointment of two senior executives to his senior leadership team. Leslie Sole was promoted to the newly created position of chief content officer. Scott Moore assumed the position of president of broadcasting. Sole would be responsible for the creation and execution of the Rogers Media content strategy. Prior to this, he oversaw the expansion of the Rogers Television division. Moore would oversee Rogers Media television including Citytv, Sportsnet and OMNI and all radio properties and would be responsible for the programming, sales, production, regulatory, engineering and distribution. He joined Rogers from CBC Television. 

Denis Dubois was promoted to VP of Specialty Channels for Groupe TVA. He joined TVA in 2008. Immediately before that, he was Producer, Director of Acquisitions, Director of Original Productions and VP for programming specialty channel VRAK-TV.

2011
Jon Rees left CITY/OMNI Edmonton as production/marketing coordinator to become marketing manager at Rogers Media Television in Toronto - effective January 17. Claire Freeland was the new Director, Development and Production at Rogers Media Television in Toronto. She had been Director of Original Programming at Corus Entertainment. Sonia Brum, a publicist at Global Toronto, left her position to begin with Rogers Media Television in Toronto, also in publicity.

The CRTC approved an amendment to the licence of conventional television station CFMT-TV-1 London, to add a post-transition digital television transmitter, operating on channel 48 with a maximum effective radiated power of 25,000 watts (17,000 watts average) with an effective height above average terrain of 197.6 metres. A directional antenna would be used at the existing TVOntario tower site in Byron. Programming would be fed to the transmitter by fibre-optic cable.

The deadline for conversion from analog to digital in mandatory markets was August 31. In Toronto, CFMT had been operating on transitional digital channel 64. On August 31, analog channel 47 was shut down and the station moved to digital channel 47 (virtual 47.1) from the transitional channel 64. CFMT-DT channel 47 was operating at reduced power and was expected to do so until December 31. CFMT-TV-1 London moved from analog channel 69 to digital channel 48 (virtual channel 69.1) and CFMT-TV-2 Ottawa moved from analog channel 60 to digital channel 27 (virtual channel 60.1).

2011-12
Jamie Haggarty, the Rogers Media Executive VP of Television Operations, was no longer with the company. 

2012
Renato Zane, vice president and general manager at Citytv/OMNI Vancouver, returned to Toronto for national OMNI Television news and diversity productions. It was in July 2009 that Zane moved from VP news at OMNI Television Toronto to become VP/GM at Citytv Vancouver/OMNI B.C. The Calgary operations of the master control hub for Citytv and OMNI Television in the west would move to Toronto. Those operations had reported to Calgary GM Paula Davies but would now be handled by Virginia Gibberd, VP of Operations in Toronto. Gibberd, responsible for network operations and engineering, also had operational responsibilities for Citytv, OMNI Television, Specialty Television and Sportsnet.

Shannon Hall joined Rogers Media Television Toronto as Senior Publicist. She had been with Bell Media as Publicist, Entertainment Specialties, focusing on E!, Fashion Television & Bravo!

2013
Sam Dynes was appointed director of production, in-house productions at Rogers Media in Toronto. She moved from CTV where she had more than three decades of experience managing projects that included the 2010 Olympic opening and closing ceremonies, the launch of MTV Canada and The Comedy Network, and the transformation of Toronto's historic Masonic Temple into a production facility.

                                                   Written by Bill Dulmage - Updated May 2013