Ted Rogers—timeline of a titan

How Ted Rogers built Canada's largest communications company from a single TV station

Timeline of a titan

1933—Edward (Ted) Samuel Rogers Jr. is born on May 27, 1933 in Toronto to Edward Rogers Sr. and Velma Melissa Rogers. He is very thin due to an infant celiac condition, and he has to take sugar pills as a child to gain weight.

1941—Ted’s mother, Velma, marries lawyer John Webb Graham. A few months before the marriage, she sells the family radio businesses on the advice of Ted’s uncle. Ted, who is only 7 when the sale takes place, is bitter and spends many nights plotting how he will regain control of CFRB and his father’s other businesses. He credits this sense of injustice for the drive that fuels his later success.

1957—While visiting his friend’s place in the Bahamas for New Year’s Eve, Ted meets his future wife, Loretta Anne Robinson, daughter of British Tory Member of Parliament Jack Robinson. Ted and Loretta start to date.

1959—Ted attends Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He almost flunks out a few times because he’s much more interested in the small businesses (Rogers Music Services) he has running on the side, but he still manages to graduate with an LL.B. in 1961.

1959—Ted cold-calls media tycoon John Bassett about forming a partnership to bid for Toronto’s first privately-owned TV station. Surprisingly, Bassett agrees (other partners include the Eaton family and Foster Hewitt, the voice of Hockey Night in Canada). The following year, at the regulatory hearing to award the TV license, Ted plunges the room into darkness when he blows a fuse by turning on several TV monitors to demonstrate the kind of programming they would run on the station. They win the license anyway, and Ted acquires an interest in his very first media holding: CFTO-TV.

1963—Ted proposes to Loretta, who accepts, and they marry in London, England, on September 25.

1967—When Toronto cable operator Metro Cable refuses to carry his radio station, Ted launches his own competing cable company. On March 19, Rogers Cable TV Ltd. is born

1969—Community TV station Channel 10 is launched in Toronto.

1979—Rogers gains a controlling interest in Canadian Cablesystems, Canada’s second largest cable company, using $35 million in borrowed money.

1980—Rogers takes over Premier Cablesystems, Canada’s largest cable company, in $78-million deal. Rogers Cable now has 1.3 million subscribers and officially becomes Canada’s largest cable company.

1981—Rogers briefly becomes the largest cable company in the world, following several acquisitions in the U.S. that bump up the subscriber base to nearly 2 million. Rogers Radio Broadcasting, which owns CHFI and CFTR, becomes part of Rogers Cablesystems, which is now a public company.

1986—Rogers Cablesystems changes its name to Rogers Communications Inc.

1988—Ted decides to sell off all of his U.S. cablesystem holdings to raise more money for wireless. When the decision is announced, Rogers’ stock price soars from $8.37 to $42 in a single day.

1994—Rogers acquires media giant Maclean Hunter and its cable, radio, TV, newspaper and magazine assets (including Maclean’s) in a complex and very public hostile takeover bid for $3.1 billion. It becomes the basis of a new division called Rogers Media.

2001—Rogers buys up specialty TV channel Sportsnet, radio station The FAN 590, and 14 local radio stations in Northern Ontario.

2004—Rogers buys out AT&T’s stake in its wireless division—now known as Rogers Wireless—then scoops up Montreal’s Microcell Communications (known for its Fido brand) for $1.4 billion, beating out rival bidder Telus.

Rogers Wireless is taken private and incorporated into Rogers Communications Inc.

Rogers buys the Sky-Dome for $25 million and renames it the Rogers Centre.

2005—Rogers goes head-to-head with Bell and Telus when it acquires Call-Net Enterprises (parent to Sprint Canada) and renames it Rogers Telecom Holdings. A new residential telephone service called Rogers Home
Phone is soon launched. It becomes the fastest growing offering in the company’s history, with more than one million customers signed up by early 2008.

2007—Rogers snaps up five Citytv stations across the country when the CRTC rules that CTVglobemedia must sever them from its recent acquisition
of CHUM Ltd.

Ted and Loretta make a gift of $15 million to Ryerson University in Toronto, which renames its business school the Ted Rogers School of Management.

Ted is proclaimed the second richest person in Canada by Canadian Business magazine, with a personal wealth of $7.6 billion.

2008—Rogers launches the iPhone 3G in July and enjoys the fastest-selling handset launch in the company’s history. Rogers Communications Inc. is now Canada’s largest wireless company and Canada’s largest cable company. It’s holdings include Citytv, five multicultural OMNI TV stations, a host of specialty channels, 52 radio stations, 70 magazines and trade journals, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Rogers Centre.

Ted has proved his critics wrong, and his company has become a mature, stable communications giant.

Dec. 2, 2008—Surrounded by his family, Ted Rogers passed away at his home in Toronto. He was 75.

Also at Ted Rogers—in pictures

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