Moses Znaimer, who developed the original format, once described the system's philosophy by saying, "It's not the show, it's the flow."
Citytv gained a second station in Vancouver when CHUM bought CKVU from Global in 2001. The station became Citytv Vancouver on July 22, 2002. Prior to CHUM's acquisition of CKVU, some Citytv programming was syndicated to KVOS in nearby Bellingham, Washington.
In 2004, CHUM bought Craig Media Inc., parent of the A-Channel system in Manitoba and Alberta. The Craig-owned A-Channel stations were relaunched as Citytv on August 2, 2005; the same date when CHUM's NewNet stations were rebranded under the A-Channel banner.
On July 12, 2006, Citytv parent CHUM Limited announced plans to sell its broadcasting assets to CTV parent CTVglobemedia. CTVgm initially intended to retain CHUM's Citytv system while divesting CHUM's A-Channel stations and Access Alberta in order for the CRTC to approve the acquisition
On the same day that the takeover was announced, Citytv cancelled its supper hour, late night, and weekend newscasts at its local Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg stations, laying off hundreds of news department staff.
In October 2006, Citytv launched a daily national newscast, CityNews International. It is produced in Toronto for broadcast on the western Canadian stations, as well as on CHUM's Toronto news channel CP24. The Edmonton and Calgary stations also began broadcasting a daily 30-minute magazine show, Your City, instead of a full-fledged newscast. The Vancouver news operation, which had operated for 30 years under various owners and station identities, was not maintained aside from BT.
In the same month, Citytv Toronto began broadcasting local news in high-definition.
On June 8, 2007, the CRTC approved the CTV takeover of CHUM. However, the CRTC made the deal conditional on CTV divesting itself of Citytv. CTV retained the A-Channel stations, and sold the Citytv stations to Rogers Communications for $375 million. The transaction was approved by the CRTC on September 28 and was completed on October 31, 2007.
In July 2008, Rogers filed an application with the CRTC to launch a separate 24-hour news station to be affiliated with Citytv.
Citytv is best known for its unconventional approach to news and local programming. There is no news desk (anchors read the news standing up), and cameras are usually hand-held. Citytv also pioneered the concept of videojournalism, where reporters often carry their own cameras and report and videotape their own stories. Citytv calls its videojournalists "videographers", but unlike many American television markets that try to conceal the fact that reporters are so-called "one-man bands", Citytv embraced the use of videojournalism by highlighting the use of technology; Citytv videographers often carry a second home video camera to record images of them videotaping on the scene. The low-grade video is then incorporated into the final story to show viewers how the story was recorded.
Citytv Toronto's CityNews, formerly known as CityPulse, had developed a large following, but ratings have since been steadily declining. Other stations around the world have tried to imitate its format to varying degrees of success. However, Citytv itself was unsuccessful in expanding its audience to other markets, as evidenced by the recent cancellation of the other stations' traditional newscasts.
At its peak, Citytv Toronto produced more local programs than any other television station in Canada, such as Speakers' Corner, CityLine and was the original home of FashionTelevision, SexTV, and MediaTelevision. Many of these series were not strictly focused on Toronto – FT, for instance, consists largely of foreign runway footage – and are easily syndicated to other CHUM outlets. The latter three shows are now owned by CTVglobemedia as a result of its takeover of CHUM and subsequent divesting of the Citytv stations.
The station also attracted attention and controversy by airing Baby Blue Movies, or soft-core pornography, on Friday nights after midnight. Although this programming strategy was discontinued in the 1980s, it was recently reinstated on the CITY and CKVU stations.
As well, CITY was one of the first television stations in Canada to implement a diversity policy in hiring its on-air staff. Znaimer originally described the policy as wanting the station to "look like Toronto".
Also, a show called Citytv New Year's Eve Bash, airs and is watched nationwide every New Year's Eve on the network. Since its debut in 1983, celebrations have been taking place at Nathan Phillips Square in downtown Toronto. The 2007 edition featured performance by the Grammy Award-winning group the Plain White T's which was broadcasted on Citytv Toronto and OMNI 2.
On March 2, 2008, Citytv Toronto, aired its first baseball game, a Toronto Blue Jays spring training game, against the Cincinnati Reds. Citytv and the Toronto Blue Jays share a common ownership in Rogers Media. This is not the first time that a live sport event has aired on Citytv, as they broadcast Toronto Raptors basketball games in its inaugural season and CKVU-TV aired National Football League football games during the 2007 NFL season, as part of the broadcast rights owned by Rogers Sportsnet, with CJMT-TV airing an alternate game to what was being shown on Sportsnet Ontario (which in turn, is the game shown on Sportsnet Pacific, alternating with CKVU). NFL games will move to CITY-TV for the 2008-2009 season, with CITY also now airing Buffalo Bills preseason games (including a game held at the Rogers Centre).
In 2003, CHUM Limited launched a high-definition television simulcast of its Toronto station CITY-TV which is available national via satellite, digital cable and cable operators. In October 2006, Citytv installed a new control room, becoming one of the first fully HD broadcasters in Canada.
Individual stations are normally branded on-air as "Citytv"; the location may be added if disambiguation is necessary.
Prior to 1997, CHUM owned two television outlets in Atlantic Canada: the ATV system of CTV affiliates, and cable-only channel ASN. Many Citytv programs (Citytv at the time consisting only of the Toronto station) were aired on either ATV or ASN during this period. Both were acquired by Baton Broadcasting (now CTVglobemedia) in 1997; ASN continued to air much of the Citytv schedule until it became part of the A television system in 2008.
In the past, local rights to individual Citytv programs were sold to stations outside of the Toronto station's coverage area. In Vancouver, programs were split between KVOS in Bellingham, Washington, United States, which is close to Vancouver, and CTV-owned CIVT, during the 1990s and early 2000s when Citytv did not have a station in the Lower Mainland. The WIC stations in Alberta (including CITV and CICT) bought provincial rights to some Citytv programs prior to the launch of CKAL/CKEM.
The Citytv brand has been licensed to local television stations in Bogotá, Colombia (Citytv Bogotá) and Barcelona, Spain (Citytv Barcelona). The latter station's licence agreement expired in 2006, and the station was renamed TD8.
In March 2006, CHUM signed an agreement with WRUA channel 34 in Fajardo, Puerto Rico to establish a Citytv franchise on that channel -- a first in the United States. Rogers Media discontinued the licensing for WRUA, and the station now serves as a translator for WECN in Naranjito.