Canadian media magnate Ted Rogers, founder and CEO of Rogers Communications, has died.
Rogers, 75, died at his Toronto home early Tuesday surrounded by loved ones, said a statement from the company's board of directors. He had recently been admitted to hospital for a cardiac condition.
"We wish to express our deepest sympathy to Loretta and all of the Rogers family for this loss," said Alan Horn, chairman of Rogers Communications and acting CEO.
"Ted Rogers was one of a kind who built this company from one FM radio station into Canada's largest wireless, cable and media company — a leader also in giving to the community through his and Loretta's many philanthropic initiatives. He will be sadly missed."
Rogers continued to play an active role in the company, which owns the Toronto Blue Jays, five Citytv television stations across the country, as well as the Rogers cable TV, wireless, radio and magazine businesses, including Maclean's and Chatelaine.
Funeral arrangements will be announced by the family. He is survived by his wife, Loretta, whom he married in 1963, and their four children — Edward, Lisa, Melinda and Martha.
Invested in high-speed, wireless
Rogers, who founded his company in 1960, was known as an outspoken, sometimes unpredictable leader, noted for going against the grain and taking risks.
He grew up in the wealthy Toronto neighbourhood of Forest Hill and attended the exclusive Upper Canada College. While articling as a law student in 1960, Rogers borrowed money to buy Toronto radio station CHFI-FM at a time when it was the only FM station in Canada.
Rogers Communications has built itself almost as much on image as on its services, placing its name on the Toronto stadium once known as the SkyDome, buying the Blue Jays and investing in cutting-edge services for its customers.
'His major contribution has been to recognize that you need to always evolve as a company, and in terms of technology.'—Caroline Van Hasselt, author of High Wire Act: Ted Rogers and the Empire that Debt Built
"You're always looking for something you can do that will, in our case, simplify people's lives … make it so that they're experiencing things with Rogers that they never thought they could experience before," Rogers once said in an interview with CBC News.
Rogers's investment in high-speed internet around the turn of the millennium was one of the pivotal decisions that solidified the company's presence on the market.
He believed that while only a limited number of people would subscribe to high-speed services initially, the investment would eventually pay off.
About 15 years earlier, Rogers was the driver behind a decision to invest in wireless technologies that were in their infancy at the time.
"His major contribution has been to recognize that you need to always evolve as a company, and in terms of technology," said journalist and biographer Caroline Van Hasselt, who wrote High Wire Act: Ted Rogers and the Empire that Debt Built.
Bought baseball team, stadium
Rogers bought a majority stake in the Toronto Blue Jays in 2000, paying Belgian beer-maker Interbrew $160 million. Three years later, Rogers took full control of the team by spending $25 million to buy the former SkyDome stadium from Sportsco International, a Chicago-based group of investors.
The price tag was only a fraction of the nearly $600 million the stadium cost when it opened in 1989. The stadium, renamed the Rogers Centre, delivered revenue sources from parking and concessions.
Earlier this year, Rogers and Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson announced a deal to bring eight NFL games to Toronto over the next five years.
Rogers and Larry Tanenbaum, minority owner of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, have declared their interest in bringing an NFL franchise to Toronto.
'He lived on the edge'
Paul Godfrey, whose eight-year run as president and CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays wraps up at the end of the year, said Rogers was one of the country's major risk-takers.
"He lived on the edge for many years while he tried to build this great media empire that he had," Godfrey said Tuesday morning on CBC Radio's Q. "He seemed to always be one or two steps ahead of anyone else."
Rogers wasn't an easy boss to work for, but he was fair, said Godfrey, who will become president and chief executive of the National Post in January.
"He raised the bar, he expected a lot from you," Godfrey said. "He paid you well, but he expected 110 per cent effort and determination in achieving your goals."
In 1991, Rogers was named an officer of the Order of Canada.
The board of directors for Rogers Communications will form a search committee to find his replacement, the company news release said.
The list of potential CEOs includes Rogers's son Edward, president of Rogers Cable, and daughter Melinda, a vice-president of the corporation. The family retains control of the corporation through multiple-voting shares.
Another prominent possibility is Nadir Mohamed, who managed the rise of the Rogers mobile-phone business, making it the country's biggest and most profitable.