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Rogers, Vice axe Canuck joint venture

Canadian broadcast group Rogers Media and youth-skewing Vice Media are terminating their joint venture, a move that could see the Viceland linear channel cease broadcasting in the country.

Shane Smith

Viceland launched in Canada as a 24-hour linear channel as part of the JV in February 2016 but reports emerged in newspaper The Globe and Mail at the end of November last year that Rogers was considering withdrawing its financial support.

That has been confirmed by the broadcaster today in a short statement that said: “In this crowded content universe and as audience habits change, we continue to evolve our strategy to deliver unique content to Canadians.

“We plan to redirect our Canadian content funding to other Canadian content initiatives that better align with our portfolio and brands. Content ownership remains a core part of our strategy and we will be actively exploring new content opportunities that appeal to a broad audience.”

Rogers said it has transferred its interest in production outfit Vice Studio Canada to Vice, and that the Viceland linear channel will cease broadcasting via Rogers on March 31.

Content from the channel, which replaced Rogers’ Bio network when it launched, will continue to be available in Canada via Vice.com and Vice is said to be finalising terms of a new partnership which will allow the linear channel to continue in the market.

In a statement, Vice said the move would allow it to take full ownership of its studio business and content library, and that Vice Studio Canada, its digital business and creative agency Virtue would continue to operate.

“Vice will continue to grow in Canada in 2018. We have a lot of opportunity ahead of us and will be announcing some new exciting partnerships soon,” said Ryan Archibald, president of Vice Canada.

“As we build Vice into the preeminent home for today’s most impactful storytellers and bring those stories to viewers across the world though digital, mobile and our award-winning studio, keeping Viceland alive as a showcase of the content and people that shape our culture is a priority for us.

“Rogers Media’s initial investment helped to establish our studio as a leading producer of some of the most engaging Canadian content out there and we thank them for their partnership.”

Last year, Vice Canada announced an exclusive deal with Bell Media to broadcast the Vice News Tonight.

The news of the JV ending follows the revelations over Christmas of sexual misconduct and failings within the company which led to a slew of suspensions and executive departures and an apology from its CEO, Shane Smith.

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