| Walter Blackburn
The London Free Press Printing Co. Ltd., owner of CFPL-AM-FM, filed an application for the operation of a television station at London. They proposed the use of channel 10 with an effective radiated power of 177,000 watts video and 19,600 watts audio through an antenna 576 feet above average terrain. Walter Blackburn, head of the London Free Press, said his company was prepared to invest $775,000 or more in the proposed station. He said it may be necessary to finance it from the profits of the radio station and newspaper. The application was opposed by G.C. Nichols, president of CHLO-AM St. Thomas. He asked the CBC Board to defer the Free Press application until CHLO could apply for a licence. He said CHLO was prepared to spend $800,000 on a TV station. Blackburn said he would not argue against a TV station in St. Thomas. The CBC Board of Governors approved the CFPL application in March, saying the application was satisfactory and the station would extend national service coverage as well as provide local service. The CBC also announced that private stations would be required to carry programs produced by the CBC. The stations would be paid by the CBC, part of the revenue the corporation received from commercial programs, while sustaining and other programs would be supplied free of charge. The CBC had opened Canada's first television stations in September of 1952 - CBFT Montreal, followed two days later by CBLT in Toronto. The corporation had plans for a number of additional stations of its own, across the country. When CFPL-TV was licensed, new, privately-owned stations were also awarded to Hamilton, Quebec City, Saint John, Sudbury, Sydney and Windsor. An application for Kitchener was denied but finally approved late in the year.
The original studio and transmitter site proposed for CFPL-TV did not work out. There were plans for a 5,000 watt transmitter, 6 bay antenna and 400 foot tower. The land was high and cheap but it was not outside the five and a half mile limit from the airport. The company found another site - farm land - but only needed 15 acres. They tried to buy the land anonymously so the farm-owner wouldn't jack up the price because of what the purchaser wanted it for. The farmer said no matter who bought the property, they would have to acquire the entire 83 acres, not just the 15 that was needed. CFPL ended up buying the entire property which included an apple orchard, wheat fields and a gravel pit. Once the farmer found out the land was wanted for the new TV station, said, if he had known it was to be used for that purpose, he would have sold the originally requested 15 acres real cheap. The site was located on Lot 32, Concession 1 of Westminster Township, south of the city. What was out in the country in 1953, eventually became part of the City of London...the address would become 150 Commissioners Road and later #1 Communications Road. The new site and technical facts (10,000 watt transmitter at 117,000 watts ERP and 500 foot tower) were approved by the Department of Transport. The tower was on what was known as Winery Hill.
On May 1, Walter Blackburn signed a contract with RCA Victor for a TV transmitter and other equipment, including a 10 kW transmitter and huge 12-bay antenna providing for an effective radiated power of 117,000 watts which would make CFPL-TV one of the most powerful TV stations in Canada. Other RCA equipment ordered: twin steatite coaxial line, monitoring equipment, test equipment, field camera and film projection equipment. Engineers predicted a primary coverage area of 50 miles radius, in which there were about 450,000 people, many with TV sets, since several signals of various quality had been coming into the area for some years (Detroit, Cleveland, and Erie as examples). CFPL-TV would also use equipment from Westinghouse, Canadian General Electric and DuMont.
On June 2, the official sod turning took place to launch construction of the CFPL Television facility. The 2-storey concrete building would be over 100 feet long and 75 feet wide. The structure would provide a 30 by 50 foot studio, control rooms, dressing rooms and offices as well as space for master control, telecine operation and storage. CFPL-TV's primary equipment would include a two-camera chain, two film projectors and a slide projector. For remotes there would be three motion picture cameras, one equipped for sound and speedy film processing equipment which would enable actuality shots to be put on the air quickly.
On August 1, a four-ton antenna was hoisted up on top of the 500' tower. 300 people were on hand to watch the event.
Direction of the TV station would be the same as CFPL Radio: Murray Brown (manager), Bob Reinhart (assistant manager and program director), and Glenn Robitaille (chief engineer). CFPL-TV expected to have a staff of 15 at launch time...all but one of those people would be CFPL radio staffers. Tom Ashcroft (formerly with CJCS in Stratford) would be an audio-camera man. Co-owned radio and newspaper staff were to have first crack at TV jobs. CFPL music librarian Jim Plant and Kevin Knight, CFPL's chief operator, would both be TV production directors. Ron Laidlaw would be in charge of the film department and came from the newspaper, where he had been a photographer. Bill Nunn would move from AM to TV studio engineer. Bob Elsden would shift from radio to TV sales. Tom Booth would move from radio to TV announcing and Dale Duffield would move from the radio turn-tables to camera work. Dorothy Belcher was promotion director. Arthur R. Ford was vice president of the company and veteran editor-in-chief of the London Free Press. Projectionist Hank Lane came from the National Film Board.
CFPL-TV proposed a 28 hour per week schedule in the early going. Program plans: spread throughout the week will be 10 1/2 hours of programs being fed from CBLT Toronto, amounting to 10 minutes daily and a mid-week half-hour roundup; five minutes a day of sports; a weekly half hour show of live talent; another 1/2 hour devoted to farm features and 15 minutes a day for a children's program. Plans also called for a weekly religious program. The rest of the time would be filled out by feature films, some of the March of Time variety. In the early going, programs fed from Toronto would be on film but a microwave relay link between the two points was to be built over time. Full-scale drama would be out for now and the station had no plans at this time for a mobile unit to pick up outside events.
The Bell Telephone Company's Adelaide Street office in Toronto was the terminal point in the new 407 mile microwave relay system - the recently inaugurated heart of Canada's three station TV network. Rising 392 feet above the street (compared with the Bank of Commerce's 400 feet and the tower of CBLT at 500 feet), this was one of 15 such units constructed by Bell to carry television programs and telephone conversations from Buffalo to Montreal via Toronto and Ottawa or any points in between. Engineering plans for a Montreal-Quebec City expansion were already prepared and others were being worked out to reach London. The Buffalo-Toronto hop needed only one relay site - at Fonthill, near Welland. The Toronto-Ottawa section had 8 stations (Uxbridge, Bethany, Hastings, Stirling, Enterprise, Westport, Smiths Falls and Stanley Corners). Three stations connect with Montreal - at Leonard, Maxville and Rigaud. The Ottawa installation is also on top of the Bell building there. Mount Royal was chosen for the Montreal station.
| Murray Brown
CFPL-TV was hoping to be the first privately-owned TV stations in the country. Print ad: Canada's most powerful TV station - on the air November 28.
Before the launch of CFPL-TV, Tom Bird spent six months hosting "Let's Talk Television" over CFPL-AM. The program was aimed at making viewers out of listeners.
CFPL-TV officially signed on the air November 28, at 6:30 p.m., with a smooth and simple ceremony, and previews of programs and personalities. The schedule would be five and a half hours daily. Things got exciting on the first night when a blaze broke out in the local Dutch laundry. Films of the fire aired on the station before midnight. The station had been using its test pattern for a few weeks until it opened. The telecine room rolled a filmed version of "The Queen" and live cameras in the main studio picked up London Free Press president Walter Blackburn and Middlesex West M.P. Robert McCubbin as they cut the ceremonial ribbon. It was the second privately-owned TV station in Canada after CKSO-TV Sudbury. Bob Reinhart was emcee for the evening. A half dozen mayors and reeves from the area took part via film, as did CBC chairman A. Davidson Dunton. Chief engineer Glen Robitaille masterminded the entire installation. He had built CFPL-FM's transmitter himself. The "FPL" in the call sign: (Canadian) Free Press Leader or Free Press London. Start-up costs for CFPL-TV: $110,000 for the building, $135,000 for the transmitter and $21,000 each for cameras. The station started with a staff of 16, many of whom were staffers from the sister radio and newspaper operations. Tom Bird was the first voice heard on the station.
The latest estimate for television receivers in Canada was 445,000 sets. The London-Woodstock-St. Thomas area, in range of CFPL-TV and a number of U.S. stations, had 18,800 receivers.
Early productions: "Newsreel" with footage gathered by the film department's chief Ron Laidlaw, supplemented by film from CBC, with running commentary by Bob Reinhart (oerations manager). "High Time" was an informal daily quarter hour show for teens, conducted by Lloyd Wright (he had done the same show on AM). Roy Jewell hosted the weekly half hour "Farm Page". Ken Ellis handled the daily "Sports On View, as part of the early evening news-weather-sports package (he had been with CFPL-AM). Paul Soles (also formerly with CFPL-AM) did the daily 45 minute "Paul's Place". He started at CHLO, moved to CKEY and then to CFPL-AM.
Ad: Advertise through the skies - Canada's most powerful TV station on the air - 117,000 watts e.r.p.
Hours of operation: 5:30 to 11:00 or 11:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 5:00 to 11:00 p.m. on Sundays. The schedule called for a minimum ten and a half hours per week of reserve time periods for CBC network shows plus about another six hours of commercial network programs. Until the microwave link was completed between Toronto and London, all network programs would be received on film or kinescope recordings either from CBC or a kine direct from the American network.
In January CFPL-TV became the fourth and newest link in Canada's network of TV stations as the microwave relay system constructed and operated by Canadian National-Canadian Pacific was completed to the city. The network now stretched from Toronto to Montreal, via Ottawa, servicing CBC TV stations in each city, and four new microwave transmitters (Milton, Galt, Woodstock and London) completed the span from Toronto to London. The new transmitters would carry long distance phone calls and some 22 hours of network TV programs a week to CFPL-TV. Plans called for the extension of the system with short hops to CHCH-TV Hamilton and from the Galt unit to Kitchener's CKCO-TV. From London the system would also be extended to CKLW-TV in Windsor. UPDATE: The link to Kitchener was to be completed on February 21. On this date it was expected that CKCO-TV would begin telecasting as a basic station in the CBC's mid-eastern TV network. Completion of the link to CHCH-TV Hamilton was expected in April, and to CKLW-TV Windsor, early next year. There were also plans to link Montreal with CFCM-TV in Quebec City.
John F. Harty was appointed full-time public service supervisor for CFPL Radio and TV. He had been public service and promotion supervisor for radio. Harvey M. Clarke was named promotion supervisor. He had been with Capitol Records of Canada.
Daily broadcast time increased from four to ten hours and the staff increased from 20 to 50. (Many Canadian television stations were now entering into daytime programming. CFPL-TV planned to start its broadcast day at 2:00 p.m. in September)
Mary Ashwell was appointed women's commentator at CFPL-TV. She had held the position for both radio and television. Joan Pritchard was named women's commentator for CFPL Radio. She had been director of women's activities at CKOC Hamilton.
Murray T. Brown was manager of the Electronics Division of the London Free Press Printing Co. Ltd.
W. Clifford Wingrove moved from Radio assistant manager to sales and promotion manager for TV.
CFPL Radio and Television held what they believed was the first locally produced simulcast when they broadcast an event that raised $2,500 for the London YMCA.
Walter J. Blackburn announced the formation of a co-operative organized to exchange TV news film among CBC and private stations. Founding members of the Canadian Television News Film Co-operative were CFPL-TV, CFQC-TV, CKCW-TV and the CBC. Membership was open to all stations.
CFPL-TV was granted an increase in effective radiated power from 117,000 watts video / 56,000 watts audio - to 325,000 watts video / 195,000 watts audio. Antenna height would be unchanged. 325,000 watts was the maximum ERP allowed for operations on channel 10.
Canadian Professional Football games, including the Grey Cup final, would be seen live from Vancouver on inter-connected Eastern stations. Delayed telecasts would be seen on all other stations on either the Sunday or Monday following the game. The 10 connected stations in the East were: CBLT, CBOT, CBMT, CHCH, CFPL, CKCO, CKLW, CKWS, CHEX, and CKVR. These stations would carry 20-26 games. Fourteen games would be seen on CKSO, CJIC and CFPA...stations not connected to the microwave. In the West, seven stations would carry kinescopes of the games to be played in Western Interprovincial Football: CBWT, CKX, CKCK, CFQC, CHCT, CFRN and CBUT.
In December, CFPL was given approval for experimental colour operations - at least by the CBC. The Ministry of Transport had no colour policy so couldn't give its ok. As a result, CFPL lost thousands of dollars over time because of money spent on colour equipment that couldn't be used.
Bob Reinhart was promoted from operations manager to station manager.
CFPL-TV was a basic affiliate of the CBC and had an effective radiated power of 325,000 watts video and 195,000 watts audio. Ownership of London Free Press Printing Co. Ltd.: W. J. Blackburn 33.4%, A. R. Ford 33.3% and H. R. Davidson 33.3%. Walter J. Blackburn was president. Murray T. Brown was manager. Bob Reinhart was operations manager and program director. Other management members: Ron Laidlaw (news director), Ward Cornell (sports director), Hope Garber (women's director), Roy Jewell (farm director) and Glen Robitaille (director of engineering). Pat Murray was on staff. He hosted "Panorama", Monday through Saturday from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Staff now numbered 100 and broadcast hours: 13. George Rennie was a news cameraman. H. Warren Blahout was promotion supervisor.
139 microwave units across Canada went into operation on July 1, carrying TV signals 3,900 miles over the longest microwave network in the world. The CBC's Dominion Day program "Memo to Champlain" inaugurated the system. The network linked together Canada's 40 privately owned TV stations and 8 CBC stations, providing live TV to 80% of the Canadian population between Victoria, B.C. and Sydney, N.S. Newfoundland was expected to be on the network in 1959. The CBC, in cooperation with CFRN-TV Edmonton, CKCK-TV Regina, CKLW-TV Windsor and CHSJ-TV Saint John, used the inaugural program as an electronic travelogue to visit 15 Canadian cities. The microwave network was called the Trans-Canada Skyway. CFPL became the first private TV station to be connected to the CBC Network by coast-to-coast microwave and to feed a special program to the network.
Ad slogan: CFPL-TV London builds-up sales...by driving your sales message into nearly every home in Western Ontario.
Channel 10 became the first private station in Canada to install video tape.
Jim Plant was a producer.
Ad - Mary Helen McPhillips - Her daily participation in "PANORAMA" adds feminine interest to an already highly rated show. Her commercial handling is appealing, persuasive. Another reason why...Western Ontario is sold on CFPL-TV Channel 10 London.
Romper Room was hosted by Miss Dorothy. Pat Murray hosted Panorma. Mary Helen McPhillips was also on Panorama. Lew McLeod was a producer. Cliff Wingrove, Doug Trowell, Harvey Clark and Warren Blahout were with CFPL-TV and Radio. Ward Cornell did sports at CFPL-TV. Hope Garber was host of "At Home".
Ad: CFPL-TV builds up sales in a billion dollar market. Western Ontario is sold on ... CFPL-TV channel 10 in London.
CFPL-TV began using the RCA TRT-1A tape recorder - the first unit to be established in Canada. It became operational at channel 10 on February 1.
The BBG turned down colour telecasting for now. CFPL-TV had been capable of colour telecasts using colour film since 1957. There was mixed reaction to the BBG's decision. CFPL's Bob Reinhart said, "I have a great doubt in my mind if there is a public demand for colour at this time".
CFPL-TV applied to the BBG for permission to increase the overall height above grade level of the antenna to 1,075 feet. The application would later be approved.
CFPL-TV began broadcasting from a new 1,000 foot tower - the highest in the country, in January. The tower was located about 500 feet south of the existing tower. The new tower allowed the station to finally broadcast its fully authorized power of 325,000 watts.
Walter J. Blackburn was President of London Free Press Printing Co. Ltd. Murray T. Brown was manager of CFPL-TV.
In co-operation with the University of Western Ontario, CFPL-TV began airing medical educational programs.
Walter Blackburn had planned in the early 1960's to move CFPL-AM-FM and the London Free Press to new modern facilities. The plan called for the radio operations to move to the TV facility, south of the city. However, Blackburn changed his mind and kept the radio and newspaper operations downtown to prevent an exodus of business to the suburbs. It was this year that the Free Press and CFPL 980 and 95.9 moved to their new home at 369 York Street.
CFPL-TV began airing some colour programming.
W.T. (Tom) Daley was creative services manager. He joined the station in 1954 as producer-director and was named promotion supervisor in 1958. George Rennie, producer-director, died at age 47.
On August 13, The London Free Press Printing Co. Ltd. set up a separate division, CFPL Broadcasting Ltd., to operate CFPL-AM-FM-TV.
Roy Jewell hosted the Roy Jewell Farm Show and Country Calendar.
Slogan: Serves Western Ontario - completely.
Station manager Bob Reinhart resigned, effective November 1. He started his broadcasting career in 1937 at CKCR Kitchener, joined CFPL radio as production manager in 1946. He was appointed CFPL-TV operations manager in 1953 and station manager in 1956. Murray Brown, vice president and general manager of CFPL Broadcasting Ltd. would add this position to his other duties.
Jack Schenck was in the news department.
Walter J. Blackburn announced the appointment of Murray T. Brown as president of CFPL Broadcasting Ltd. as of December 17. Brown became commercial manager of CFPL Radio in 1945 after serving as a part-time announcer. In 1949 he was named AM-FM station manager. He added TV responsibilities when it went on the air in 1953. In 1956 Brown was named general manager of the electronics division of London Free Press Printing Co. Ltd. and became vice president and general manager in 1966.
Tom Daley was promotion manager.
April 15 was the debut date for a new 30 minute information program - FYI Mid-Week Magazine - hosted by George Clark.
Channel 10 went to full colour operation in September. It was the first station in Canada to produce its entire output of news film in colour. News At Noon, FYI and PM News were all in colour.
John MacDonald was a reporter. Teri Culbert was a cameraman.
CFPL-TV became the first TV station in Canada to produce its entire output of news film in colour. Three major newscasts (News at Noon, FYI and PM News) as well as experimental "Midweek Magazine" were now airing entirely in colour.
Michael Woodward was producer-director.
CFPL Broadcasting Ltd. purchased CKNX-AM-TV in Wingham (creating CKNX Broadcasting Ltd.).
London Free Press Holdings Ltd. became 100% owned by the Blackburn family when they purchased the 25% interest held by Southam Newspapers.
In September, Jack Burghardt joined as news anchor from CHCH-TV Hamilton. He replaced Hugh Bremner who was a part-time anchor. Hugh remained with CFPL Radio.
Jack Burghardt left to run as an M.P. in Hamilton but lost. He returned to the CFPL-TV anchor desk in November.
CFPL-TV began using video carts.
Renovation of the control room, started last year, was completed on April 27.
Jack Burghardt left the station again to run in federal politics.
Jack Burghardt was elected M.P. for the riding of London West.
In a review of Canadian content policy, CFPL-TV's Bob Elsden told the CRTC that the CBC's 33 affiliates should be paid for non-commercial network time, which was now as much as 80% of prime time.
| Bob Elsden
Jay Campbell (weather) joined CFPL-TV.
R. V. (Bob) Elsden was promoted to vice president and general manager for CFPL-TV. He has been involved with CFPL Radio and Television for a number of years and has contributed greatly to both the C.C.B.A. and the TV Bureau.
| Janice Zolf
Reporters Nick Paparella and Janice Zolf joined the CFPL-TV news team. Zolf had been with CFPL Radio.
T.W. "Tom" Bird was appointed marketing manager. He had been with the company since 1950.
Glen (Robbie) Robitaille retired March 1. A retirement party was held February 26. He had been vice president in charge of engineering, electronic and mechanical services for CFPL-AM-FM-TV and the London Free Press. He had been associated with CFPL since 1949.
Murray T. Brown retired as president of the broadcasting divisions of London Free Press Holdings Ltd. He would remain as a company director. Robert V. Elsden became president of CFPL-AM-FM-TV. James A. Plant, director of operations, succeeded Bob Elsden as manager of CFPL-TV.
On September 19, CFPL-TV introduced an hour-long morning news program "FYI
- First Edition", hosted by newscaster Molly Connors, Jim Swan (weather and sports), and Michelle Dash. Interviews were handled by Swan and Dash. The show aired between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. A station spokesperson said that as far as they knew, CFPL-TV was the only private station in Canada doing such a show without network assistance.
| Jim Swan
The licenses for CFPL-AM-FM and TV were extended to a full five-year term following a review of cross-ownership. The CRTC concluded the market had been well served by London Free Press Holdings.
Walter J. Blackburn died on December 16. Control of the company passed to his daughter, Martha.
CFPL Broadcasting Ltd. spent $3 million for a 2,425 square meter addition and new equipment for CFPL-TV. The expansion included a 697 square meter studio, staff lunge and reception area.
London Free Press Holdings Ltd. and its subsidiary CFPL Broadcasting Ltd., merged into The Blackburn Group, Inc.
News anchor Neil Stevens joined CFPL-TV from Windsor's CBET.
| Neil Stevens
On April 11, the CRTC approved the application by CFPL Broadcasting Limited for a TV network licence for CFPL-TV London and CKNX-TV Wingham for the purpose of providing a microwave feed to distribute programs from London to Wingham for broadcast on CKNX-TV. This represented no change in the programming available to Wingham viewers, but an improvement over the practice of sending programs by video-tape.
Kate Young moved from anchor of the noon news to 6:00 p.m. co-anchor. Other on-
air names at the time: Julie Sandiland and Neil Stevens (anchors), Jay Campbell (weather), Pete James and Bevin Palmateer (sports). Some off-air names: Bill Young (assignment editor), Corey Goodwin (assistant assignment editor), George Clark (news director) and Sue Cryderman (promotions manager).
| Pete James
TV London (CFPL) and Cable 13 provided co-operative local coverage of the Ontario election. Both provided mobile units for on-location reporting of election results.
In August, CFPL-TV moved into a new newsroom. At the same time it became the first Canadian television news operation to computerize its new programming. The new main newsroom covered 2500 square feet, with a separate newsroom of 912 square feet dedicated to the morning news. The area housing editing and the morgue took up another 1600 square feet, the camera staff's ready room and equipment rooms another 960 square feet, and the new offices and editorial meeting room adjoining the newsroom occupied 576 square feet. The newsroom expansion was part of an overall 20,000 square foot addition to the existing 32 year old, 30,000 square foot building.
Ron Laidlaw was named editor emeritus on his retirement after 32 years as CFPL-TV's news director. He had been with the London Free Press organization for exactly 45 years. In 1953, he became the TV station's first news employee.
Lorne Freed was hired as program director. He had been executive vice president at Kingston's CKWS-TV. George Clark was promoted from managing editor to news director.
The CFPL-TV studios on Commissioners Road were totally refurbished and expanded.
Martha Blackburn became the sole shareholder of the company when she bought her sister's shares.
| Martha Blackburn
Donald C. Hauser was promoted to national sales manager at CFPL-TV.
The CRTC approved CITY-TV's (Toronto) application for a Woodstock transmitter and the station hoped to have it on the air September 1. CKCO-TV, the CBC and CFPL-TV/CKNX-TV opposed the application. The CBC and CFPL/ CKNX asked for deferment to work out details on disaffiliation from the CBC. A preliminary target date of the fall of 1987 has been proposed for London and Wingham to become independent stations.
CFPL-TV reporter Frank Hilliard left the business.
News anchor Neil Stevens was killed in a car crash on July 16. He was 35.
Jennifer Reid joined CFPL-TV. She had been a reporter at CJOH-TV Ottawa.
Frank Kovacs took early retirement from CFPL-TV's news department. He had been with the station for 27 years. Marketing director Tom Bird also retired from the station. He had been with the company for 38 years.
Approval of the applications by CFPL Broadcasting Ltd. and CKNX Broadcasting Ltd. to disaffiliate their television stations from the CBC Television Network was approved. As a result, the CBC was granted the establishment of reboradcast transmitters of CBLT Toronto to replace the signals of CFPL and CKNX. The disaffiliation of the stations took place August 31, and the replacement CBC stations began broadcasting. It should be noted that CFPL-TV was the largest private affiliate of the CBC Television Network.
John S. Sommers was named production manager responsible for local program production. Bob White became program acquisitions supervisor.
E.W. (Ted) Eadinger was appointed vice-president and general manager of CFPL-TV. He had been president of CFQC-TV in Saskatoon.
John Lees was a reporter, Kate Young was an anchor and George Clark was news director. The 11:00 p.m. newscast was known as "FYI Final Edition".
Ted Eadinger became vice president of CFPL-TV on August 1. For the past 13 years, he had managed CFQC-TV in Saskatoon.
Lorne Freed became director of program operations. Bob White was the new program acquisition supervisor.
John Summers became production manager.
Lauren Lee joined CFPL-TV to anchor the late evening news. She had been co-anchoring the evening news at CHEX-TV Peterborough.
On September 28, an application by CFPL Broadcasting Ltd. to purchase CHCH-TV Hamilton from Maclean-Hunter Ltd. was denied. The trio of CHCH, CFPL and CKNX would have formed a mini-network. CFPL and CHCH had worked together over the years in areas such as program acquisition and news, so they already had a good working relationship. The CRTC gave Maclean-Hunter until March 28 (1990) to either keep CHCH-TV or find another buyer.
On October 19, an application by Kenwal Communications, a partnership of Maclean Hunter Ltd. (65%) and The Blackburn Group Inc. (35%), to purchase independent stations CHCH-TV Hamilton, CFPL-TV London and CKNX-TV Wingham was denied by the CRTC.
Robert V. Elsden was appointed vice-president of broadcasting for what was now The Blackburn Group Inc.
Former CFPL newsman Hugh Bremner passed away at age 74. For nearly 30 years, he aired news and commentaries on CFPL radio. He also anchored the evening news on CFPL-TV for a number of years.
Don Mumford was named promotions manager.
CFPL-TV received permission to reduce spending on Canadian programming in 1991 and 1992. Its ambitious 90-minute morning news show was also cancelled.
Ted Eadinger was appointed vice president of television for Blackburn Communications Systems.
In early May, Martha Blackburn, chair of the Blackburn Group Inc. announced the sale of CFPL-TV and CKNX-TV to Baton Broadcasting Inc. The purchase of the Blackburn stations would strengthen Baton in Ontario where it had been operating a provincial network with CKCO-TV Kitchener for 18 months. "ONT" broadcast 10.5 hours of programming a week, including Blue Jays baseball. Baton planned to boost that schedule to 17 hours a week in the fall, increasing to 35 hours over the next couple of years. The proposal to buy CFPL/CKNX would put CKCO out of the ONT network.
Martha Blackburn-Hughes, 47, died suddenly on August 15. She was the daughter of the late Walter J. Blackburn and became head of the company following his death. Despite the death of Blackburn, the proposed sale of CFPL/CKNX to Baton was to proceed. The future of the London Free Press newspaper and CFPL / CKNX radio stations was up in the air.
In addition to making its application to acquire the Blackburn TV stations, South Western Ontario Broadcasting (Baton) also applied for a rebroadcast transmitter at Wheatley (channel 16 with ERP of 183,000 watts) to rebroadcast CFPL-TV. Some programs would be produced specifically for the Chatham-Windsor area. This application was contingent on the approval of Baton's acquisition of CFPL-TV and CKNX-TV.
CFPL-TV completed further renovations of its control room.
On January 26, approval came for South Western Ontario Broadcasting Incorporated's (Baton Broadcasting) purchase of CFPL-TV and CKNX-TV, from The Blackburn Group Inc. The CRTC also granted the application by South Western for a new independent TV station at Wheatley, operating on channel 16 with an effective radiated power of 183,000 watts, to broadcast a minimum of six hours per week of programming specifically produced for, and directed to, residents of Chatham, Windsor and area, as well as programming originating from CFPL-TV London. Local programming on CKNX-TV would increase from 2.45 hours to 6:30 a week. Overall, baton promised to invest $23.8 million in the South Western Ontario stations.
Roy Jewell died on September 9 at age 81. When CFPL-TV went on the air in 1953, he moved from CFPL Radio to become one of the TV station's first employees. Jewell hosted the farm show for 24 years - until he retired in 1977. Just before 6:00 p.m. on October 18, CHWI-TV (Wheatley) opened. The transmitter was in Romney Township, Kent County.
On September 1, CFTO-TV Ltd., Nation's Capital Television Inc., South West Ontario Broadcasting Inc. and Mid-Canada Communications (Canada) Corp. amalgamated to become BBS Ontario Inc. a division of Baton Broadcasting Inc.
CHWI-TV was granted a re-broadcaster on channel 60 at Windsor. The transmitter would be approximately 1 km east of the CBET tower, east of Windsor.
On March 24, the CRTC renewed the licences for CFPL-TV, CKNX-TV and CHWI-TV to August 31, 2002. The Commission expected the licensee to adhere to the commitments made in its licence renewal applications to broadcast a minimum weekly average of 17 hours original, or first play, local news programming on CFPL-TV, 5 hours and 40 minutes on CKNX-TV and 10 hours on CHWI-TV during the new licence term. The Commission commended the licensee for its performance in the areas of "one time" specials, documentary and Town Hall specials and drama productions. In this regard, it was noted that the station met or exceeded its commitments regarding locally-produced drama in each year of the past licence term and in year 5, almost tripled its commitments through its involvement in 13 hours of "The Red Green Show". In its application, the licensee proposed to amend the specific condition of licence that authorized the licensee to broadcast a maximum of 40% of the commercial availabilities on the Wheatley station separately from those on CFPL-TV, provided that it produced a minimum of six hours of original station programming broadcast exclusively each week. The licensee submitted that it presently provided 11 hours of local production and proposed to change the percentage of commercial availabilities from 40% to 100% to reflect the full measure of local service now being provided. The Commission noted that most of the programming provided by the Wheatley station would be a rebroadcast of material originating from and produced by CFPL-TV. Therefore, the Commission did not consider there to be a "full measure of local service" provided by the Wheatley station. Consistent with its policy linking the authority to solicit local advertising with the provision of local programming, the Commission decided to authorize the licensee, by condition of licence, to broadcast a maximum of 6.5% of the commercial availabilities on CHWI-TV separately from those broadcast on CFPL-TV London, for each hour of original, station-produced programming broadcast exclusively on CHWI-TV each week.
On June 21, approval was given for the trading of 50% of Baton's CFPL-TV, CKNX-TV and CHWI-TV to Electrohome in exchange for 50% of Electrohome's CKCO-TV stations. A 50-50 joint venture company would be formed between Baton and Electrohome.
In September, it was announced that Baton & Electrohome would merge, subject to CRTC approval. This would give Baton 42.9% of CTV Television Network Ltd. Electrohome's share of CTV was 14.3%.
Some on-air names of the time: Julie Simpson (Sandiland), Kate Young, and Al McGregor (anchors); Jay Campbell, Debbie Neufort and Gus Ayim (weather); Pete James, Perry Esler, and Bevin Palmateer (sports); Bruce Williams, Andria Case, Ross Daily, and George Glark (program hosts); Janice Zolf (entertainment); reporters: John Lees, Nick Paparella, Jayne Graham, Dan Miles, Ted Kosteki, Guy Goodwin, Ian Caldwell and Phyllis Bennett...
Baton Broadcasting cut 154 jobs as part of a restructuring of its Ontario operations.
On August 28, the swap of some television properties owned by CHUM Limited and Baton Broadcasting Inc. was approved. Baton would trade CFPL-TV London, CKNX-TV Wingham, CHWI-TV Wheatley and CHRO-TV Pembroke-Ottawa for CHUM's Atlantic Television Network (CJCH-TV Halifax, CJCB-TV Sydney, CKCW-TV Moncton-Charlottetown and CKLT-TV Saint John/Fredericton). CHUM took ownership of the former Baton stations on November 1.
On September 2, CFPL began gradually rebranding itself as it prepared to drop its affiliation with Baton. On October 27, all Baton elements at the station were gone.
Andria Case and Ian Caldwell left for CFTO Toronto. Jennifer Reid joined from CHWI-TV. Kathy Mueller and Sara McGrath joined as reporters. McGrath had been with CFQC-TV in Saskatoon.
Sports director Pete James was let go at CFPL-TV. He had been with the station for about 25 years and worked at CFPL radio before that.
With the sale of CFPL-TV from Baton to CHUM, Derwyn Smith left the London station to return to CFTO-TV Toronto as news director. George Clark was CFPL-TV's news director.
CFPL-TV had its best ever ratings...215,000 viewers at 6:00 p.m.
On September 8, CFPL Television became known as "The New PL" (CKNX, "The New NX" and CHWI, "The New WI").
Bob Smith became a news anchor. He had been a producer and reporter. Anchor Al McGregor left April 27. Perry Esler (sports) left, replaced by CFPL-FM's Jim Van Horne. In September, Ross Daily became business reporter. Derek Rogers (reporter) joined from MCTV Sault Ste. Marie in May.
| Al McGregor
Ross Daily left in June. He was replaced by John Wilson in July.
Morning show "New Day" launched October 5.
Reporter Neeta Das left for CITY-TV. Program host Lori DeAngelis left in April and was replaced by Cheryl Weedmark. Jennifer Palisoc joined the reporting staff.
Other names of the day: Kate Young, George Clark, Bob Smith, Stephanie Mandziuk, and Julie Simpson (anchors); Jay Campbell, Debbie Neufort and Suzy Burge (weather); Jim Van Horne, Will Hill and John Cleveland (sports); Peter Chura, Gerry Dewan, Guy Goodwin, Kathy Mueller, Nick Paparella, Kathy Wallis, Derek Rogers, Neeta Das, John Lees, Jennifer Palisoc and Sara McGrath (reporters); John Wilson (business); Janice Zolf (entertainment); Bevin Palmateer, Bruce Williams, Lori DeAngelis, Matt Webb, Cheryl Weedmark (New Day), Jennifer Reid.
George Clark (anchor) left February 26. He had been with the station for 34 years. Clark was chair of the Radio & Television News Directors Foundation, which recently named a scholarship in his honour.
Debbie Neufert (weather) left in the spring. She was replaced by Julie Evans. Bruce Williams (New Day) left June 29, and was replaced by Houida Kassem. Will Hill (sports) left December 13.
Don Mumford was program and promotions manager.
John Wilson (business) left in early July. On July 12, Kate Young stepped down from anchor duties. She would remain with the station in the public service area. On August 16, Jim van Horne (sports) left to teach at Fanshawe College. Jon Cleveland (sports) left September 13. Norman James joined September 12 to replace Van Horne in sports. CHWI-TV's Marek Sutherland replaced Cleveland.
Former news anchor Jack Burghardt passed away September 28. He was 73.
On October 21, Dan MacLellan joined the staff and teamed up with Kathy Mueller to anchor the 6:00 p.m. news. Kathy had moved from reporting duties to sports earlier in the year.
Through the fall, CFPL-TV marked 50 years on the air.
On August 2, The New PL was re-branded as A Channel (London).
"New Day" was rebranded "A Channel Morning".
Allan Waters, the founder of CHUM Limited, owner of A-Channel passed away at the age of 84, on December 3rd.
On July 12 it was announced that Bell Globemedia would pay C$1.7 billion for CHUM Ltd., in a deal that would see the company become part of the BCE-owned media conglomerate, subject to CRTC approval. On August 31, the two companies announced that BGM had been successful in its offer to acquire approximately 6.7 million common shares and approximately 19.2 million non-voting Class B shares of CHUM. The shares were to be placed in the hands of an independent trustee pursuant to a voting trust agreement approved by the CRTC.
On November 22, the CRTC approved the transfer of effective control of CHUM Limited from Mr. Allan Waters to his estate, following his death in December 2005. The approval represented the preliminary step to enable the transfer of CHUM's shares to a trust, which received approval on July 12. This transfer was not related to the pending sale of CHUM to Bell Globemedia. Prior to his death, Mr. Waters was the sole shareholder of Allan Waters Ltd., which in turn, owned approximately 87% of CHUM's voting shares. The executors of the estate were James Allan Waters, Ronald Allan Waters, Sheryl Bourne and Robert Sutherland.
On December 12th, it was announced that Bell Globemedia would henceforth be known as CTVglobemedia.
A CRTC hearing on the CTVglobemedia application to acquire the assets of CHUM Limited was held on April 30th 2007. On June 8 the CRTC approved the acquisition of CHUM Ltd. by CTVglobemedia, on condition that CTV sell off the five City-TV stations, CITY-TV Toronto, CHMI-TV Portage La Prairie/Winnipeg, CKEM-TV Edmonton, CKAL-TV Calgary and CKVU-TV Vancouver. Rogers Communications announced on June 25th that a deal had been reached for them to buy these stations from CTV, subject to CRTC approval. Among the CHUM assets acquired by CTVglobemedia in the deal were seven television stations, including CFPL-TV, 21 specialty channels and some 33 radio stations, including CHST-FM.
CTV decided to rebrand the "A Channel" stations as "A". The transition began in June with newscasts (ie: "A News"). The change to "A" officially took place at 6:00 p.m., August 11.
On August 14, Ron Laidlaw passed away. He was a news reporter, photographer and CFPL-TV's first news director (1953-until his retirement in 1985). The television pioneer had also been president of the RTNDA (1965-66). Under his leadership, CFPL-TV became the first private station in the country to establish an hour-long evening newscast and was the first to convert its news operations to colour.
Anchor Kathy Mueller left the station on August 19.
Morning show "A Morning" was expanded to three hours (6-9 a.m.) in September.
On February 25, CTV Inc. announced that, given the ongoing structural problems facing the conventional television sector in Canada and the current global economic crisis, it would not be applying for renewal of the CKNX-TV Wingham and CHWI-TV Wheatley licences (and its rebroadcaster in Windsor). CTV said as a result of today's announcement, Wingham and Windsor would no longer be provided with their own distinctive local programming. News related to the broader Southwestern Ontario region would be provided through CFPL-TV London. The CKNX-TV and CHWI-TV licences would expire at the end of August.
On March 3, CTV confirmed further steps in its on-going efforts to address the grave financial reality facing its conventional 'A' stations by announcing the restructuring of its local program operations and significant staff layoffs. Effective immediately, 'A' Morning, the three-hour local morning show produced separately in Victoria, London and Barrie, would be cancelled. In Ottawa, the evening, late night and weekend newscasts would be cancelled. A total of 118 positions were eliminated at 'A' stations in Victoria, London, Barrie and Ottawa, representing approximately 28% of the 'A' stations' overall staff count.
Weatherman Jay Campbell retired October 16 after 28 years with the station. Late evening weathercaster Julie Actchison took over from Jay.
On August 13, the CRTC approved the application by CTV Corp. for authority to acquire from CTV Limited, as part of a corporate reorganization, the assets of the English-language television programming undertakings CIVI-TV Victoria and its transmitter CIVI-TV-2 Vancouver, CFPL-TV London and its transmitter CKNX-TV Wingham, CHRO-TV Pembroke, CHRO-TV-43 Ottawa, CHWI-TV Wheatley and its transmitter CHWI-TV-60 Windsor, as well as CKVR-TV Barrie and its transmitter CKVR-TV-1 Parry Sound. CTV Corp. was a wholly owned subsidiary of CTV Limited. The latter was a wholly owned subsidiary of CTV Inc., which in turn was wholly owned by CTVglobemedia Inc. (CTVgm). This transaction would be effected through the transfer of the assets of the above-mentioned undertakings from CTV Limited to CTV Corp. As a result of the transaction, CTV Corp. would become the licensee of the undertakings. The applicant stated that this transaction served administrative and tax planning purposes. The Commission noted that the transaction would not affect the ultimate control of the undertakings, which would continue to be exercised by CTVgm.
Ted Kostecki passed away on December 29. He had been a reporter and producer in London radio and television for 30 years and had been employed by CFPL-TV for a good portion of that time.
On March 7, the CRTC approved an application by BCE Inc. on behalf of CTVglobemedia Inc., for authority to change the effective control of CTVgm's licensed broadcasting subsidiaries to BCE. The Commission concluded that the transaction would be beneficial to the Canadian broadcasting system by ensuring the long-term stability of a significant Canadian television network and advancing the Commission's objective of providing relevant high-quality Canadian programming to Canadians through conventional and new media distribution channels. BCE was a public corporation and controlled by its board of directors. Before this approval, BCE held 15% of the voting interest in the capital of CTVgm. The other shareholders were 1565117 Ontario Limited (a corporation ultimately controlled by Mr. David Kenneth R. Thomson) (40% of the voting interest), Ontario Teacher's Plan Board (25% of the voting interest) and Torstar Corporation (20% of the voting interest). Under the transaction agreement dated September 10, 2010, BCE would acquire the remaining 85% of the voting interest in the capital of CTVgm and would therefore exercise effective control. Condition: Maintain the local programming that airs on all of CTV's A-Channel stations for at least three broadcast years starting on 1 September 2011.
On March 15, CTV Inc., CTV Corp., CTV Limited and CTVglobemedia Inc. amalgamated to continue as CTV Inc.
On March 29, the CRTC administratively renewed the licence for a number of conventional television and transitional digital television stations until August 31, 2011. The CRTC noted that it did not intend to renew authorizations for full-power analog transmitters operating in the mandatory markets or on channels 52 to 69 outside the mandatory markets beyond August 31, 2011. By that time, the Commission expected licensees to have the necessary authority to broadcast in digital.
BCE Inc. announced on April 1 that it had completed its acquisition of CTV and that it had launched Bell Media (replacing CTVglobemedia), a new business unit that would make CTV programs and other Bell content available on smartphones and computers as well as traditional television. In addition to CTV and its television stations, Bell Media now also operated 29 specialty channels, 33 radio stations, Dome Productions, a mobile broadcast facilities provider, and dozens of high-traffic news, sports and entertainment websites, including the Sympatico.ca portal.
The CRTC approved the amendment to the licence of CFPL-TV to add a post-transition digital television transmitter on channel 10 with a maximum effective radiated power of 44,000 watts horizontal and 16,000 watts vertical (20,000 watts horizontal and 8,000 watts vertical average ERP). Effective antenna height would 302.1 metres from the existing antenna site.
On July 27, the CRTC renewed the licence for CFPL-TV and its transmitter CKNX-TV (Wingham) until August 31, 2016.
The CRTC approved a change to the ownership of Bell Media Inc., from BCE Inc. to Bell Canada. This transaction would not affect effective control of Bell Media Inc. and of its licensed broadcasting subsidiaries, which continued to be exercised by BCE Inc. Bell Media Inc. held, directly and through its licensed broadcasting subsidiaries, various radio and television programming undertakings as well as specialty and pay-per-view television services.
On August 8, CFPL-TV hoisted its new digital antenna to the top of its tower.
On August 29, the /A stations were re-branded as CTV Two. This included CFPL-TV London and CKNX-TV Wingham.
The deadline for conversion from analog to digital in mandatory markets was August 31. CFPL-TV was scheduled to make the switch from analog to digital at midnight, August 31 but made the change early. The station left analog channel 10 at 11:56 p.m. on the 30th and turned on digital channel 10 (virtual 10.1) less than a minute later.
Mike Boothman left /A London where he had been news producer and line-up editor. He moved on to /A Barrie (as of June 20) as managing producer.
Bell Media created four new regional vice president positions for radio and local television. They would report to Chris Gordon, president of radio & local TV. Don Mumford, VP and general manager at CTV Two London and Windsor would be VP for Ontario. Local GM's at radio and TV stations in Ontario would now report to Mumford. Radio operations in Toronto would continue to report directly to Gordon.
CTV Two London's Dan MacLellan resigned as Senior News Anchor. In a statement posted to the station's website, MacLellan said he would be focusing on legal challenges as a result of common assault charges against him.
Mark Schembri of CTV London became Regional Manager, Engineering and IT, with input at CTV Barrie, CTV Kitchener, CTV London and CTV Windsor operations, as well as the 13 radio properties. Tom Fitz-Gerald, Sales Manager at CTV London and Windsor, became Regional Retail Sales Manager, overseeing all local retail advertising and commercial production at CTV Barrie, Kitchener, London and Windsor. Tom Green at CTV London/Windsor was promoted to Regional Commercial Production Supervisor at CTV (Ontario). John Cordiner, most recently Creative Services Director at CTV London/Windsor, was promoted to Regional Manager, Promotion and Digital Media, focusing on the integration of digital services throughout the four CTV stations (Wingham, London, Kitchener and Barrie). Janet Taylor, the Program Promotion Manager at CTV Kitchener, became Regional Manager, Programming and Community Relations, assuming local responsibilities for sponsorship, public relations, communications, as well as local program production oversight. Michael Melling, the News Director at CTV Kitchener, was appointed as Regional News Director, overseeing the news operations at Barrie, Kitchener, London, and Windsor, as well as effecting the integration of the CTV News brand into the daily newscasts on those four stations. Steve Young, a 27-year veteran of local TV news in four Southwestern Ontario markets, was promoted to News Director at CTV London. Cal Johnstone, News Director at CTV London was no longer with CTV.
Priya Mann did her last weather forecast on CTV London on January 6. She joined CTV Southwestern Ontario the following day. In addition to doing weekend and fill-in weather in London, Priya was also a news reporter.
Written by Bill Dulmage - Updated February, 2013
CFPL-TV News Clips - Ontario Archives
CFPL 50th Anniversary Video Clips: