CTV Two (formerly "A")
The first Canadian stations to carry an "A" logo and identity were launched by Craig Media, CKEM-TV in Edmonton and CKAL-TV in Calgary. Previously, the Craig family owned just two stations, in Brandon (CKX-TV) and Portage La Prairie (CHMI-TV), Manitoba. The two Alberta stations were each identified as A-Channel.
Craig Media moved CHMI-TV’s studios (now known as MTN for Manitoba Television Network) into Winnipeg, and rebranded CHMI as an A Channel station.
On April 12th, CHUM Limited announced that it had concluded a deal to acquire the assets of Craig Media, including the A Channel stations. The deal was approved by the CRTC in November, and was concluded the following month.
CHUM Limited announced in February that its three A-Channel stations would be rebranded as Citytv stations in their respective markets. This change took place in August. Simultaneously, CHUM’s existing Ontario television stations in Windsor (CHWI), London (CFPL), Wingham (CKNX), Barrie (CKVR) and Ottawa/Pembroke (CHRO), plus CIVI in Victoria, B.C., were each renamed as A Channel stations.
In July, CTVglobemedia announced the conclusion of a deal to acquire the assets of CHUM Limited. The deal included a proposal for the A Channel stations to be divested, but for CTVglobemedia to retain CHUM’s City-TV stations.
In April, it was announced that Rogers Communications had agreed to acquire the A Channel stations from CTVglobemedia, as well as CKX-TV Brandon. However, in June, the CRTC announced its approval of the CTVglobemedia/CHUM Limited deal, conditional on CTV selling off the City-TV stations, though CTV was permitted to retain the A Channel stations. By the end of the month, Rogers had concluded a deal with CTVglobemedia to acquire the City-TV stations instead of the A Channel group and CKX-TV Brandon.
While the new A Channel "mini-network" was structured so that its news operations would be responsible to CTVglobemedia and not to the existing CTV News organization, CTVglobemedia was quick to recognize the new programming opportunities that A Channel ownership offered. CTV’s deals for packages of US programs had often meant that some series had had to be shelved until the summer, because there had not been room in the fall schedule for all their purchase commitments. The acquisition of the "A"s now offered an opportunity for this programming to be scheduled in these key markets, often in simulcast.
At its Upfront Presentation in June, CTVglobemedia announced its 2008-2009 schedules for both CTV and A Channel. It also announced that the latter would be rebranded simply as "A", starting in the fall, and that ACCESS Alberta stations CIAN-TV (Calgary) and CJAL-TV (Edmonton) (with their primetime schedules) and the ASN satellite/cable system in the Maritimes would also become part of the "A" mini-network.
In July, Corus Entertainment Inc. purchased ACCESS, and later in the summer CIAN Calgary and CJAL Edmonton were re-branded VIVA. (In March 2011 they were rebranded yet again on becoming part of the Oprah Winfrey OWN Network).
The dramatic economic downturn that began in Canada in 2008 deepened in 2009, and CTVglobemedia began to find that the A Channel stations were becoming a drain on their financial resources. Early in the year CTVglobemedia announced that they would not be seeking to renew the licences for Brandon, Wingham and Windsor that were due to expire later in the year. They would continue to program the remaining A stations, but in June CTVglobemedia executive vice-president of corporate affairs Paul Sparkes told the Globe and Mail: “It’s a one-year strategy. During that time frame we will be playing to win – but (the programming line-up) is only for one year.”
In July, CTV announced that in view of policy changes announced by the CRTC, aimed at providing new funding for small-market TV stations, CHWI-TV Windsor/Wheatley would stay on the air.
However, in September, CKNX-TV Wingham, after 54 years of local service, ceased broadcasting local programming, and became a rebroadcaster of CFPL-TV London. A deal for the sale of CKX Brandon to Bluepoint Investments broke down on October 1st, and the station closed down the following day.
On March 22nd, the CRTC published its Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2010-167,which included its decisions regarding a group-based approach to the licensing of private television services, following the receipt of input from all interested parties.
On August 9th, the CRTC announced administrative renewals of all the broadcasting licences held by CTVglobemedia, which would now expire at various dates in 2011 and 2012.
In making the announcement, the Commission said that this would enable them to consider the renewal of the major large English-language private conventional television ownership groups by taking into account the determinations in the aforesaid Broadcasting Regulatory Policy.
On September 10th, BCE Inc. (Bell) announced it had agreed to acquire 100% of CTV. Bell had owned a 15% equity position in CTV and would acquire the remaining 85% for $1.3 billion inequity value from The Woodbridge Company Limited, the Toronto-based holding company of the Thomson family; Ontario Teachers Pension Plan; and Torstar Corporation.. The acquisition would be subject to CRTC approval.
The CRTC held a hearing in Ottawa starting on February 1st to hear BCE's application to acquire total ownership of CTV. On March 7th, the CRTC approved BCE Inc.'s acquisition of CTVglobemedia Inc.
On April 1, BCE Inc. (Bell) announced that it had completed its $3.2-billion acquisition of CTV and launched Bell Media, a new business unit encompassing all CTV and other Bell content assets. All CTV on-air programming and promotion was immediately given the Bell Media Brand.
On May 30th, Bell Media announced that it would extend its CTV brand to its "A" network, renaming it CTV Two in the Fall of 2011. The debut of the new identity would coincide with the launch of the network in High Definition. The move would include the movement of A NEWS outlets under the CTV NEWS banner.
The A Network became CTV Two at 6 a.m. on August 29th, 2011.
Book - "CTV - The Television Wars" by Susan Gittins.