From the moment it first went on the air just six years ago, I became a big fan of Breakfast Television Montreal. So I was devastated to learn today that the weekday 6 am to 9 am program has been cancelled effective immediately by parent owners Rogers Media.
Some people will tell you their ratings were not high, but while not everyone watched the show live like me countless thousands enjoyed their reports via their website and social media. This program was there for the community, having personalities in studio and going out to cover events. Wearing my hat from the English Montreal School Board, mere words cannot describe what a role they played in promoting our activities.
Joanne Vrakas and Catherine Verdon-Diamond were the only originals left from when the program debuted. Elias Makos moved on to CJAD, where he is now shining as the mid-morning show host ; Laura Casella went to Global TV; and Wilder Weir and Alexandre Despatie moved on elsewhere. Derick Fage was wonderful as a co-anchor and it was interesting to see news chief Melanie Porco continually churn out talent as different replacements.
CityNews will remain on air evenings at 6 pm and 11 pm, but if they are to gain a following then the folks at Rogers head office must allow for a significant format change. This is an anchor-less newscast which thus far has served as a de facto farm team to CTV Montreal News. There is an opportunity here to take some of the warmth from Breakfast Television and differentiate from the competitors. Give us an anchor and cover the community stories the others are not. Find a way to retain Verdon-Diamond as part of that show for she has been a machine in terms of community engagement.
Rogers Spokesperson Charmaine Khan told me that Breakfast Television here simply was not financially viable. They will repeat CityNews from the night before and air original City programming in the now former BT timeslot. Rogers-owned Omni TV will continue to air Italian news from Montreal. Khan said that next year another third language newscast will be added.
Stated Colette Watson, Senior Vice-President of Television & Broadcast Operations at Rogers Media: "This decision was very difficult, but at the end of the day, the show was not sustainable. We remain deeply committed to the local market in Montreal and are redirecting resources to our news presence in Montreal at CityNews and OMNI Television with Italian news and the launch of a national third-language newscast next year in support of our OMNI 9(1)(h) licence. We recognize and thank all employees who worked at BT Montreal over the years for their incredible work and commitment and making mornings brighter for our viewers.”
This is a very sad day for the English media in Montreal. Hopefully Rogers can repair some of the damage by letting a talented TV executive like Porco (who stays on) reinvent the evening news.