David Armstrong, owner of CKDA-AM & FM Radio acquired the licence for low power CKTV Television which had not yet signed on the air. When the station began broadcasting the Indian Head test pattern on December 1, it had the call sign of CHEK-TV. Victoria's first television station began operation at 5:00 p.m. with the voice of announcer Len Carlson heard behind an O Canada film. More than 200 government and business officials and other guests, along with vice president and general manager Charles R. White, were present for the opening ceremonies at the newly built studio at 3963 Epsom Drive in suburban Saanich. The transmitter was also located in Saanich and broadcast with an effective radiated power of 1,800 watts video and 900 watts audio. CHEK-TV channel 6 was British Columbia's first private television station, a CBC affiliate and only the second TV outlet in the province. CHEK would be the first Canadian TV station to be equipped for colour telecasting even though no colour programs would be aired until such programming was made available through the CBC.
In the first year of operation, CHEK aired a locally produced program entitled "The TV House Party Show".
Bill Rea, former owner of CKNW-AM New Westminster, purchased a 20% interest in CHEK-TV. The shares were held by former CHEK vice president Charles R. White who left the station. David Armstrong retained control and took over as general manager.
An application for transfer of 21 common shares in CHEK-TV Ltd. was deferred pending further information. The 21 common shares would have gone to William Rea Jr., former owner of CKNW New Westminster, now living in Santa Barbara, California, but retaining his Canadian citizenship. One CBC board member said he was reluctant to approve the transfer of shares within a year or two after the original licence was granted. Rea was asked if he would change his mind about his Canadian citizenship. If he did, the board would find itself with an American citizen owning a large share of a Canadian television station. Under the proposal, Rea would counsel the management of the station from the U.S.
Russell Furse was appointed general manager. Former CHEK commercial manager Colm O'Shea was now Canadian account executive for ABC Film Syndication. Before joining CHEK, he'd been director of film sales for MCA Canada Ltd.
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.
CHEK-TV received federal approval to increase effective radiated power to 100,000 watts video and 50,000 watts audio. The power increase took place June 1, making CHEK a full-powered station.
After losing money, David Armstrong sold his interest in CHEK to British Columbia Television, owner of CHAN-TV Vancouver.
Andy Stephen was CHEK's news director. He was also host of the Roving Reporter program on sister station CKDA-AM.
A Vancouver Member of Parliament asked the Board of Broadcast Governors to hold a special public hearing to look in to interference from CHEK-TV (channel 6) to Seattle's KING-TV (channel 5), following the recent power increase at the Victoria station. The MP also did not want CHEK in the Vancouver market and felt the station should restrict broadcasting to Vancouver Island. A CHEK spokesperson said his station was not seeking local business in the Vancouver market but it was offered to them, they would take it. The BBG later said the principle of limiting Canadian TV stations in order to prevent interference with U.S. stations already on the air, was unworkable and unacceptable. The board met September 1 to consider a Department of Transport investigation into the CHEK vs. KING problem. A further sitting by the board would possibly be held later in the year.
David M. Armstrong, president and general manager, announced the appointment of Richard L. McDaniel as station manager. He was formerly manager of sister station CKDA-AM.
The station began airing its locally produced and popular “Ida Clarkson Show”, which continued until 1991.
CHEK started putting re-broadcast transmitters on the air to extend its signal.
Frank Griffiths traded his option to purchase CHEK for an interest in both CHEK and CHAN-TV Vancouver.
In addition to CBC network programs, CHEK began airing some programming from the CTV network as well.
Network programming started to be broadcast in colour.
179,000 shares of Western Broadcasting Co. were sold. 85,000 were sold by Frank Griffiths to United Acuumulated Mutual Fund. It was uncertain who purchased the other 94,000 shares.
Ray Peters was president.
An offer to purchase all of the outstanding shares of BCTBSL not already held by Selkirk Holdings Ltd., Famous Players Canadian Corp. and Saturna Properties Ltd., a holding subsidiary of Western Broadcasting Co. Ltd. was made by the three companies and accepted by the other shareholders, and subject to regulatory approval. The transaction would give in Class A non-voting shares 43.71% to Selkirk, 32.95% to Saturna and 23.44% to Famous Players. In Class B voting shares: Selkirk would hold 51%, Saturna 28.68% and Famous Players would have 20.32%. In preferred shares, Selkirk would have 40.70%, Famous Players 33.67% and Saturna 25.63%.
Famous Players Canadian Corporation applied to the CRTC to sell its interests in CFCM-TV/CKMI-TV (50%) Quebec City and CKCO-TV-CFCA-FM-CKKW-AM (48%) Kitchener to Famous Communications Ltd., a new public company to be incorporated. There was also a pending deal that would have Famous Players acquire a small, additional interest in CHAN-TV Vancouver and CHEK-TV Victoria.
On June 13, the CRTC denied an application for a share transfer by British Columbia Television Broadcasting System Ltd. of 371,887 class B, 447,000 class A non-voting and 46,738 preferred shares. The Commission would not authorize a transfer that would increase the participation of any person or party in the ownership, management or control of more than one company licensed to operate a CTV affiliate. Famous Players Canadian Corp. Ltd. was a shareholder in two member stations of CTV (CHAN, as well as CKCO Kitchener). If this application had been approved, Famous Players would have increased its ownership in BCTV.
CHEK-TV began airing local programs in colour.
Lloyd Colthorp became Vice-President, Programming for both CHAN-TV and CHEK-TV.
While the CRTC commended BCTV for its program production and extension of service to many areas of the province, the station was now expected to apply for rebroadcasters in the East and West Kootenays. The company would provide CTV service to Vancouver Island through CHEK-TV in Victoria, now a CBC affiliate. This would happen when the CBC opened its own station on Vancouver Island. The CRTC approved two CHEK rebroadcast transmitters for Vancouver Island.
Eleven rebroadcast transmitters on Vancouver Island would change program source from CHEK-TV to CHAN-TV to provide CTV service as CBC rebroadcasters commence operations in the same area. They would revert to CHEK-TV when that station became a CTV affiliate.
CHEK-TV applied to the CRTC for a change of network affiliation - from CBC to CTV - once the CBC opens its new Victoria television station.
On January 4 the station dropped all CBC programming and became a full-time CTV Network affiliate. With its re-broadcaster transmitters and cable TV inclusion, CHEK-TV’s coverage included most of Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, eastward to Hope.
Western Broadcasting Co. Ltd. obtained control of BCTV (CHAN-TV Vancouver and CHEK-TV Victoria).
On January 11, the CRTC renewed CHEK-TV's licence until September 30, 1985.
On March 8, the CRTC approved the application to amend the licence for CHEK-TV-5 Campbell River to decrease the transmitter power from 1,200 watts to 1,000 watts and change the channel from 11 to 13. These changes should ensure the reception of the CHEK-TV signal in the Northern portion of Vancouver Island without any significant interference.
CHEK began operating from its new multi-million dollar studio complex at 780 King's Road on January 8. The facility had originally been built for a new CBC-TV station in Victoria. The CBC never had the money to put the new station on the air. The facility was located near the centre of Victoria. Full occupancy was complete in September. The old facility was in Saanich, at 3693 Epsom Drive.
Tony Cox was CHEK's news director. Bruce Kirkpatrick was host of the hour-long Noon Report. Assistant news director Mark Jan Vrem hosted the flagship 5:30 Report and Susan Long handled the 11:20 news. Mike Farquhar was a reporter. Alex Robertson was sports director. On weekends, Marisa Antinucci and Robin Adair continued their team approach to news and sports.
Roy Gardner became vice president of programming at CHEK-TV.
On September 28, the CRTC approved Maclean-Hunter Limited's purchase of Selkirk Communications, and the subsequent transfer of Selkirk's interest in BCTV (CHAN-TV and CHEK-TV) to Westcom TV Group (WIC), giving Westcom 100% of BCTV. Westcom in effect acquired the 41% of BCTV not already held, from MH Acquisitions Inc. Westcom was a division of Western Broadcasting Co. Ltd. CHEK-TV became wholly owned by BCTV (Westcom TV Group).
Rick Wiertz was appointed news director.
Frank Griffiths, President of Western Broadcasting, passed away at the age of 77 on April 7.
On January 23, the CRTC approved the application to amend the licence for CHEK-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.
On March 17, the CRTC issued one year licence renewals (to August 31, 1996) for CHEK-TV Victoria, CHAN-TV Vancouver, and their respective transmitters elsewhere in British Columbia. This one-year term reflected the Commission's serious concerns regarding, most particularly, the practices followed by the licensee in the accounting of its Canadian programming expenditures. The Commission expected the licensee, by no later than September 1, to prepare and file new renewal applications for each of CHAN-TV and CHEK-TV that respond fully to this and related concerns.
CHEK signed Shell Busey for a weekly home show.
Westcom TV Group became WIC Television Ltd.
Barry Dodd was program director and promotions manager. Robert Palmer was news director. Robin Adair left CHEK-TV to become at talk show host at CJVI-AM. Vice President and General Manager Jim Nicholl was no longer with the station. He was replaced by Warren Olson, formerly VP/CFO at BCTV Vancouver.
The "Tyabji" show debuted on February 17. Former MLA Judi Tyabji moved in to the half hour open line show after hosting an Okanagan radio talk show. She is also a regular contributor to CHEK's 5:30 p.m. newscast.
Westcom TV announced plans to cut 95 jobs as part of "restructuring" following the licensing of new competitors in B.C. and Alberta. Following the elimination of 46 positions already, 51 would be cut at BCTV in Vancouver and Victoria; another 44 would be lost at WIC's four Alberta stations. CEO Art Reitmayer said the jobs would be phased out gradually and he hoped most affected workers would take early retirement or buyouts.
Emily Griffiths, president of Western Broadcasting and controlling shareholder of WIC, retired on the third anniversary of her husband Frank's death. She said she had always intended to leave at age 75. Mrs. Griffiths remained with the company as chairman emeritus. She was succeeded on the board of directors by Edmondo Giacomelli.
CHEK added two ENG photographers at Nanaimo and Campbell River-Courtenay-Comox, to better service the needs of central and north Vancouver Island viewers.
The Griffiths family holdings in WIC Western International Communications Ltd. were sold, subject to CRTC approval, to Shaw Communications Inc. and CanWest Global Communications Corp.
WIC appointed BCTV/CHEK's Art Reitmayer as president and Chief Executive Officer. Former head of WIC TV, Jim MacDonald, was let go. Reitmayer would continue to be based in Vancouver.
WIC Television cut nine jobs at CHEK-TV. In recent times, the company had also eliminated 19 positions at CISA-TV Lethbridge, 13 at RDTV Red Deer, and eight at ONtv Hamilton. CHEK's general manager Warren Olson's post was phased out. He would remain with the station until the end of June.
Craig Roskin became General Manager and Vice President of Sales at CHEK. The new WIC Western International Communications CEO was Peter Classon, who succeeded Thomas Peddie. Classon had served on WIC's Board of directors but was probably best known as the former President/CEO of the BC Lions football club.
Following months of negotiation, agreements were filed with the CRTC on the split of WIC assets between CanWest Global, Corus Radio (formerly Shaw Radio), and Shaw Communoications.
CHEK-TV launched Island News @ 5:00, a one-hour news program thate aired seven days a week. Hudson Mack and Meribeth Burton, who anchored separate news shows in the 5 to 6 p.m. time slot, dual anchored the new show. CHEK said Island News @ Five incorporated the best of two newscasts - the 5 and 5:30 - into one more effective hour of news which eliminated duplication, showcased journalistic talent, and provided more local content. The changes eliminated nine jobs at the station, five from production and four others which were transferred to sister station BCTV Vancouver. The cuts reduced full-time and part-time staff at CHEK to fewer than 80, from more than 110 three years ago.
Following an April hearing in Vancouver, in July, the CRTC announced the approval of the purchase of WIC Television by CanWest Global, which included CHEK-TV.
The change in ownership resulted in CHEK-TV becoming a Global Network affiliate in an unprecedented network shuffle in Vancouver-Victoria, which would see sister station CHAN-TV changing from CTV to the Global Network, CIVT-TV (owned by CTV) assuming the CTV Network and CKVU-TV losing Global to
become an independent, owned by CHUM, effective September 1.
In January CHEK-TV started airing a few selected Global Network programs including the National Football League’s Superbowl.
In February, Moira McLean became a reporter at CHEK-TV. She had been with CFAX-AM.
On May 1, the station picked up the very popular nightly “Sports Page” program, which had aired for years on Vancouver’s CKVU-TV.
At midnight on September 1, CHEK-TV became a Global TV Network affiliate as part of the ownership and network shuffle. After years of identifying with many variations on the name and logo design from CHEK to CHEK SIX, CHEK 6 TV, Chek 6, and CHEK 6, the station moved to the new slogan and quarter moon logo of "CH", the same as its Hamilton counterpart CHCH-TV. The official call letters as listed with Industry Canada remained CHEK-TV.
On October 4 the station no longer was the sole TV outlet in Victoria, as CHUM Limited launched CIVI-TV "The New VI".
On October 7, Israel 'Izzy' Asper, founder and chairman of CanWest Global Communications Corp. died in Winnipeg at age 71.
In mid August, it was announced that Hudson Mack, who joined CHEK-TV in 1985, was named primary news anchor in 1989, and was twice named “Most Popular Victoria Television Personality” in polls done by Vancouver's TV Week magazine, had been lured away by Victoria’s other station, CIVI-TV.
The final edition of “Sports Page” aired at 11 p.m. on September 2. It debuted September 1977 on Vancouver’s CKVU-TV, moving to CHEK-TV in May 2001, and had featured numerous prominent B.C. sportscasters.
On October 25, CHEK-TV held a champagne toast and staff reunion. Among the attendees were early newscaster Andy Stephen; Bob Aylward, host of the 1960s dance show “Club 6”; John Barton of “Barton and Company” and CHEK-TV co-founder Charlie White. As the station’s December 1st 50th anniversary approached, it began airing a nostalgic series of on-air vignettes reflecting the past and present, a series of new 50th anniversary station IDs, and anniversary greetings from celebrities and former station personalities who had been a part of making the station a success. It pledged to continue in the forefront - to inform, enlighten, and entertain viewers as it moved forward toward the next 50 years.
Approval was granted for the transfer of ownership of CanWest MediaWorks Inc. through the transfer of the beneficial ownership of CanWest Global Communications Corp., the parent corporation of CMI, from Mrs. Ruth Asper to David, Gail and Leonard Asper, holding together, through their personal holdings, 88.95% of the voting rights of CGCC.
On September 7, during its 5 p.m. newscast, the station rebranded as E! This change was in line with the other CH Network affiliates in Canada, and followed a content-sharing agreement earlier in the year with the U.S.-based E! Networks. Much of the primetime programming was retained, with the balance a mix of celebrity news and lifestyle shows. One of the most significant changes was the renaming of local newscasts to “CHEK News”, returning to identification with the station’s historic call letters.
The early months of the year saw CanWest needing to renegotiate many of its lending agreements in an effort to avoiding having to seek creditor protection, as the Canadian economy weakened, and economies had to be effected.. On February 5th, CanWest said it was exploring the possibility of selling off some of its stations, including CHEK-TV.
On April 27th the CRTC began hearings on to consider CanWest's applications for various OTA licence renewals, along with similar applications from several other major broadcasting entities.
On May 15th, the CRTC announced a one-year licence renewal, effective September 1st 2009, for all of CanWest's Over-The-Air stations, including CHEK-TV, "....to give these broadcasters some flexibility during the current period of economic uncertainty." Group-based licence renewals would then be addressed in the spring of 2010. The Commission also stated that it recognized the impracticability of imposing any conditions relative to 1-1 ratios between Canadian and non-Canadian programming in the ensuing year, given the programming commitments that were already in place.
The Commission would however continue to explore various regulatory measures "...to ensure that English-language television broadcasters devote an appropriate proportion of their expenditures to Canadian programming."
On July 22nd, Canwest announced with regret that they had concluded that there were "no viable options" for CHEK-TV, and that therefore the station would be closed down on August 31st 2009.
On September 4th, Canwest Global Communications Corp. announced today that its subsidiary, Canwest Television Limited Partnership had entered into an agreement to sell CHEK-TV in Victoria ("CHEK") to a local investor group ("LIG").
For a nominal purchase price that was not disclosed at the time, but later identified as $2, the LIG would take ownership of the conventional television station's assets. The change of control and issuance of a new licence was conditional on Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission ("CRTC") approval. The LIG intended to file an application with the CRTC requesting the transfer of ownership of the station licence as soon as possible.
Canwest agreed to provide transitional support services and leased space in the CHEK station building at favourable rates in order to ensure a smooth transition and to facilitate the sale.
"Many dedicated individuals on both sides of the table came together and the result is that it has preserved jobs and service in the community," said Leonard Asper, President and CEO of Canwest. "One week ago, we thought that this station was going to close and today we have a result that is beneficial for all parties." He added: "The real winners are the people of Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland who will continue to receive this valuable local service."
On November 9th 2009 the CRTC approved the proposed purchase, and renewed the station's licence through August 31st 2016. However, the Commission said that in view of the attendant circumstances, it would "re-evaluate issues related to the broadcast of priority programming" at a public hearing in 2012.
Charlie White died at age 84. White was a broadcast pioneer who was a founder of both C-FAX Victoria and CHEK-TV Victoria . He was also a longtime director of BCTV (now Global).
On January 28th it was announced that former Global/BCTV news anchor Tony Parsons would be joining CHEK-TV as news anchor, and would be making a personal investment in the now privately-owned station. He returned to the anchor desk in March.
Mary Griffin, a six and a half year veteran of CHEK-TV was promoted to Assignment Editor from Reporter.
Ian Hanomansing became a regular west coast contributor for CBC's The National, moving from his co-host gig at CBC Vancouver. Succeeding him was Tony Parsons, the long-time BCTV/Global News Anchor who retired from that position a few months earlier. In recent weeks, he'd been anchoring CHEK TV Victoria's news package and would continue doing the 10 p.m. package. CBC now had a content-sharing deal with CHEK in which the Victoria station would simulcast the 6:00 p.m. CBC Vancouver show.
CHEK-TV celebrated its first year of being employee-owned on September 6. A year earlier an employee-led bid bought the station from Canwest Global, which had planned to shut it down. The station grew from fewer than 30 full-timers a year ago to 43 full-time and 21 part-time staffers. They all remained under the original employee ownership plan, which required full-time staff to invest $15,000 and half as much from part-timers.
The CRTC approved an amendment to the licence for conventional television programming undertaking CHEK-TV, in order to add a post-transition digital television transmitter in Victoria, operating on channel 49 with a maximum effective radiated power of 28,000 watts (average of 15,000 watts), directional. Effective antenna height above average terrain would be 480 metres. The existing CHEK-TV tower would be used and programming would be received by microwave.
The analog to digital conversion deadline for mandatory markets was August 31. CHEK-TV channel 6 made the switch to CHEK-DT channel 49 on that date. The virtual channel was 6.1.
Former CHEK-TV broadcaster Bruce Gordon Payne died at age 64.
The CRTC approved an amendment to the licence for CHEK-TV Victoria by deleting the analog transmitter CHEK-TV Sooke.
CTV Vancouver reporter Jim Beatty became the new anchor at CHEK News. Beatty was CTV's legislative bureau chief for seven years. Andy Stephen (84) passed away. The TV news pioneer was CHEK-TV's first anchor. In 1953, he moved to CKDA Victoria from CFRA Ottawa. When CKDA's owner, Dave Armstrong, set up CHEK-TV in 1956, Stephen added TV news to his duties. He did CKDA news in the morning and CHEK-TV news in the evening, plus reporting from the B.C. legislature and hosting the Capital Comment public affairs show for 20 years.
Andy Stephen, died at age 84. The TV news pioneer was CHEK-TV's first news anchor. He began his broadcast career at CFRA Ottawa after the end of the Second World War. In 1953, he moved to CKDA Victoria. When that station's owner, Dave Armstrong, set up CHEK TV in 1956, Stephen added TV news to his duties. He did CKDA news in the morning and CHEK-TV news in the evening, plus reporting from the B.C. legislature and hosting the Capital Comment public affairs show for 20 years.
Bob Aylward died at age 78, in Victoria. The former CJVI and CHEK-TV veteran was the first broadcaster inducted into the Victoria Music Hall of Fame.
CHEK-TV president John Pollard and comptroller Rod Munro were no longer with the employee-owned station. In Pollard's place was Roy Gardner who became president/General Manager immediately. Gardner worked at CHEK for 15 years in the ‘70s and '80s, serving as GM before moving to WIC Television's BCTV and, later, Global BC where he served as VP of programming and general manager. Pollard was instrumental in helping employees save the station in 2009 when Canwest Global planned to shut it down. In late 2008, Pollard, then the senior account executive, became the new General Manager/General Sales Manager, succeeding Ron Eberle who was caught in a Canwest downsizing.
Bill Pollock was promoted from Operations Manager to General Manager. Roy Gardner, who took over as President/GM from John Pollard in March, stepped down May 31 but remained on the station's board of directors.
On December 20, the CRTC approved an application for CHEK-DT to be recognized as a small-market independently owned television station eligible for support from the Small Market Local Production Fund.
On July 24, the CRTC approved the deletion of transmitters CHEK-TV-3 and CHEK-TV-5 (Port Alberni and Campbell River).
Philip Campbell passed away at age 65. He was a CHEK-TV anchor-reporter for 22 years until he left the station in 2009.
Bill Dulmage, Gord Lansdell - Updated November 2014