Rogers Communications axed its short-lived 24-hour CityNews Channel and slashed production in some areas of its OMNI Television operations Thursday in an abrupt announcement which took viewers by surprise.

A Rogers spokeswoman said the changes "impacted" 62 full-time employees in total — 23 at CityNews Channel and 39 at OMNI Television.

"The impacted positions included all facets of the television industry — production, operations, writing, reporting," said Andrea Goldstein.

Employee memo circulated

The changes were announced in a memo to employees from Scott Moore, the president of broadcast at Rogers Media.

"We made changes to the company's television strategy to reflect evolving viewer habits and the global structural shift in advertising," Moore wrote in the memo obtained by The Canadian Press.

"While difficult, these changes enable us to continue to focus our efforts where we know the market is growing, while helping us to effectively manage our costs."

Moore said Rogers had "ceased operations of CityNews Channel, effective immediately," and added that the company would now focus on its all-news Toronto radio station 680News and news operations at its City channels.

CityNews channel launched in October 2011, touted at the time as a round-the-clock source for the Greater Toronto Area's news, entertainment, sports and current affairs.

On-screen message

It was broadcast on Rogers' digital cable systems. Viewers tuning in to CityNews Channel on Thursday saw a note at the bottom of their screens saying "CITYNEWS CHANNEL is no longer available. Thank you to our loyal viewers."

Moore also announced changes at Rogers' OMNI Television, which focuses on multicultural programing, although few details were provided.

"The English-language South Asian newscast is no longer being offered and production operations in Alberta have ceased," was all Moore wrote.

It wasn't immediately clear if, like CityNews Channel, OMNI's stations in Calgary and Edmonton would cease operations entirely.

Moore said Rogers remains committed to ethnic programming, but adds that the changes were made due to "the changing marketplace."