In the fall of 1969, the CRTC considered four competing applications to establish second television service at Sudbury. These specific applications were denied on the grounds that, in view of the market's limited broadcasting base, the licensing of such service, at Sudbury only, would have rendered the extension of second service to other parts of the region unlikely for many years.
Accordingly, the Commission proposed an alternate framework to provide for the early introduction of second television service in Northern Ontario, which was predicated upon co-operation between the region's existing broadcasters and designed to preserve a balance between them. On the basis of this co-operative approach, J. Conrad Lavigne and Cambrian Broadcasting were subsequently licensed to provide CBC and CTV service respectively at each of Sudbury, Timmins, North Bay and other surrounding communities.
On July 8, J. Conrad Lavigne Ltd. received approval to operate a television station at North Bay. It would operate on channel 4 with an effective radiated power of 60,900 watts video and 6,100 watts audio, and transmit a directional signal from a 730 foot tower. The new station would be the CBC affiliate in North Bay. The market’s existing station (channel 10) would switch from CBC to CTV.
On October 15, CHNB-TV Channel 4 signed on the air as a CBC affiliate. Channel 10 became the CTV affiliate on the same date.
The viability of local services was the focus of a CRTC decision which approved applications whereby the competing CTV and CBC affiliated stations licensed to Cambrian and Lavigne came under the ownership of Mid-Canada, and under the ultimate control of Northern Cable Services Limited which owns 95.8% of Mid-Canada.
The Commission acknowledged the various factors which make Northern Ontario a difficult and unusually expensive market to serve. The marginal profitability and frequent financial losses encountered by Lavigne and Cambrian in the operation of their CBC and CTV television affiliate services provided clear evidence of these difficulties. The relatively slow growth rate of the area's economy, the escalating costs of program production and acquisition, increasing cable penetration and the introduction of additional television services were identified as placing further strains on the viability of over-the-air broadcasting services in the region.
The Commission said that it viewed the purchase of the CBC related assets by Mid-Canada as being a realistic interim measure towards achievement of the goal of improved television service in the region, and noted the applicant's statement that this was an "in trust" arrangement until the CBC had sufficient funds to purchase the transmitters and associated equipment. The Commission also noted the applicant's commitment to offer the CBC the opportunity to buy or rent surplus equipment for the production of a CBC regional news service.
As stated above, Mid-Canada is owned 95.8% by Northern. The largest shareholder of Northern is CUC Limited with 48.3% of the outstanding voting shares. CUC Limited has extensive cable television interests across Southern Ontario and is deemed to be controlled by G.R. Conway and its other founding shareholders. The remaining 51.7% of Northern's voting shares are owned by Northern Ontario investors who also form a majority on Northern's Board of Directors. The largest of these is The Sudbury Broadcasting Company Limited, which owns 20.1% of Northern's voting shares and is controlled by F. Baxter Ricard. Mr. Ricard has been involved in broadcasting in Northern Ontario since the late 1940's and is a long-time associate of G.R. Conway.
James Tuckett became news director for CHNB-TV/CKNY-TV (and CHUR-AM). He had held the same post at CKPC-AM-FM in Brantford.
When CHNB-TV had its licence renewed, Mid-Canada committed to broadcast an average of 4 hours and 50 minutes of original local programs per week during the new licence term. CHNB-TV currently produces the real estate program "Home Buyers' Magazine"; it also produces "Sports Talk" and "Teen Machine" in co-operation with other Mid-Canada stations. In addition, it acquires a number of programs produced by the licensee's other CBC affiliates, including "Labour Forum", "The Today Show" and the children's programs "Take Part" and "A Time to Read".
Baton Broadcasting Inc. of Toronto purchased Mid-Canada Communications (Canada) Corp. from Northern Cable Holdings Ltd. The purchase included CHRO-TV (CBC) Pembroke, CICI-TV (CTV) and CKNC-TV (CBC) Sudbury, CITO-TV (CTV) and CFCL-TV (CBC) Timmins, and CHNB-TV (CBC) and CKNY-TV (CTV) North Bay and their respective rebroadcasters. At the same time, Mid-Canada (Baton) purchased CHBX-TV (CTV) and CJIC-TV (CBC) Sault Ste. Marie from Huron Broadcasting Ltd. The CRTC approved these transactions on October 22. Baton, is controlled by members of the Eaton family of Toronto through their indirect ownership of a majority of Baton's voting shares.
On September 1, Nation's Capital Television Inc. amalgamated with CFTO-TV Ltd., South West Ontario Broadcasting Inc. and Mid-Canada Communications (Canada) Corp. to become BBS Ontario Inc. (All were Baton subsidiaries)
Baton Broadcasting laid off 25 employees at MCTV in Northern Ontario. Local news was replaced with regional coverage on weekends. City councillors in Sault Ste. Marie asked BBS to reconsider the layoffs.
On January 23, the CRTC approved the application to amend the licence for CHNB-TV by adding to the licence the following condition of licence: In addition to the 12 minutes of advertising material permitted by subsection 11(1) of the Television Broadcasting Regulations, 1987, the licensee may broadcast more than 12 minutes of advertising material in any clock hour in a broadcast day, in order to broadcast infomercials as defined in Public Notice CRTC 1994-139 and in accordance with the criteria contained in that public notice, as amended.
Mid-Canada Television's George Lund was named vice president of Baton Broadcasting's Ontario stations.
On January 27, the Eaton family sold its 41% interest in Baton.
John White Hughes Bassett (longtime head of Baton) passed away on April 27.
After purchasing the CTV Television Network, Baton Broadcasting Inc. changed its name to CTV Inc. The name change was effective December 21.
In February, Bell Canada Enterprises through its subsidiary BCE Media, proposed to purchase CTV Inc. for $ 2.3 billion. In June BCE submitted their brief to the CRTC with the largest "benefits package" ever presented to the regulative body. The benefits, money allocated over the proposed seven year licence term, were almost entirely to be spent on new Canadian programming. Ivan Fecan agreed to stay with the network under BCE ownership.
The CRTC hearing was held in September and the ownership application was approved on December 7th.
BCE entered into an agreement with The Woodbridge Company Limited and The Thomson Corporation (owners of The Globe and Mail newspaper). Bell Globemedia Inc. was formed by these companies. Bell Globemedia became the parent of CTV Inc.
In November, MCTV stations in North Bay and Timmins lost their local newscasts. All news now came from CICI-TV Sudbury. Short local inserts were produced for the other two stations.
On October 10, the CRTC approved the application by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to amend the broadcasting licence for the television station CBLT Toronto in order to operate the following transmitters: CFCL-TV-3 Kapuskasing (channel 2 with effective radiated power of 984 watts), CFCL-TV-2 Kearns (channel 2 with ERP of 38,500 watts), CHNB-TV North Bay (channel 4 with ERP of 60,800 watts), CJIC-TV Sault Ste. Marie (channel 5 with ERP of 37,900 watts), CKNC-TV Sudbury (channel 9 with ERP of 115,500 watts) and CFCL-TV Timmins (channel 6 with ERP of 100,000 watts). The transmitters are currently owned and operated by CTV Television Inc. as CBC affiliated stations. Following negotiations with CTV, the CBC has agreed to purchase the transmitters in order to provide the full CBC English-language television network service to the communities noted above. Residents of these communities will continue to receive CTV's original local programs on CTV owned-and-operated affiliated stations.
CHNB-TV (and the others listed above) ceased to broadcast at midnight on October 27, whereupon they became rebroadcasters of the CBLT Toronto signal. The call letters were changed as follows: CFCL-TV-3 Kapuskasing = CBLT-9, CFCL-TV-2 Kearns = CBLT-8, CHNB-TV North Bay = CBLT-4, CJIC-TV Sault Ste. Marie = CBLT-5, CKNC-TV Sudbury = CBLT-6 and CFCL-TV Timmins = CBLT-7.
CHNB-TV founder J. Conrad Lavigne passed away in April. He was 86.
Written by Bill Dulmage - Updated March, 2011