Cable television mogul Ted Rogers dies at 75
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Tuesday, December 2, 2008 9:33AM EST
Ted Rogers, the 75-year-old founder and CEO of Rogers Communications Inc., died at his home overnight.
Rogers had been suffering from congestive heart failure and his health had weakened in recent years, according to a statement issued by the company Tuesday. He died at home surrounded by his loved ones.
"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," Alan Horn, Rogers Communications chairman and acting CEO, said. "A leader also in giving to the community through his and Loretta's many philanthropic initiatives. He will be sadly missed."
Horn will continue on in his role as acting CEO.
In a statement issued Tuesday, CTVglobemedia President and CEO Ivan Fecan praised Rogers as one of the best entrepreneurs Canada has ever known.
"I admired him enormously," Fecan said. "For us at CTVglobemedia, he was both a wonderful partner and very tough competitor. But at all times, he was a gentleman and his word was his bond. Our thoughts go out to his family and his employees. Ted always used to say: 'the best is yet to come.' Today, that's not true anymore."
In 1960, while he was still a student at Osgoode Hall Law School in his hometown of Toronto, Rogers bought all the shares in local radio station CHFI.
The business went on to expand into cable television, telephone and wireless communications, and is currently one of Canada's largest media conglomerates.
In his autobiography, "Relentless: The True Story of the Man Behind Rogers Communications," Rogers discussed the reluctance among his board of directors to allow him to invest $500,000 in wireless technology.
"Every board member voted against me, even my wife," Rogers wrote.
"They forced me to put my own money on the line, which I did. I just knew wireless was the next big thing and I wasn't about to miss it."
The investment paid off, as the company, which employs about 24,000 people, grew into Canada's largest cellphone company.
The company was also one of the first to invest in high-speed Internet technology and now has about 1.6 million Internet subscribers across the country.
At the time of Rogers' death, the company owned five Citytv television stations across Canada and the Toronto Blue Jays, as well as the Rogers telecommunications empire, and was worth $22 billion on the TSX, said BNN's Linda Sims.
Rogers was considered one of the wealthiest people in Canada.
However, not every business venture was a success.
Rogers was often criticized for amassing too much debt and focusing on expansion rather than profits.
In 1989, Rogers paid $288.7 million to purchase 40 per cent of CNCP Telecommunications, later renamed Unitel Inc. Rogers had to pull out of the company in 1995 due to soaring company debt, a move that cost Rogers' company about $500 million.
Rogers' work ethic was largely influenced by his father, Edward Rogers, who founded Toronto radio station CFRB.
In the late 1930s, Edward died at the age of 39 from overwork and a bleeding ulcer.
"I didn't get into broadcasting out of any smarts," Rogers once said. "I was emotionally attracted to it because of my father."
After he bought CHFI, investments by the wealthy Eaton and Bassett families helped finance an expansion into the cable television business in 1967.
Rogers was often one of the first to offer new services, such as cheap long-distance telephone service, cellphones and high-speed Internet. The company was also the lone Canadian distributor of Apple's iPhone.
Rogers was named an officer of the Order of Canada in 1991.
He is survived by his wife, Loretta, and their four children: Edward, Lisa, Melinda and Martha.
The company statement indicated that funeral arrangements will be announced by Rogers' family.
With files from The Canadian Press