The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission held hearings commencing October 15 at the Renaissance Vancouver Hotel Harbourside to consider numerous applications, including two to obtain a licence to operate a new multilingual ethnic television station to serve Vancouver.
On February 14, the CRTC approved application by Multivan Broadcast Corporation for a new television station in Vancouver to broadcast on UHF channel 42 with an average effective radiated power of 40,000 watts. With full local ownership, the Multivan application won out over a competing bid by CFMT-TV, a division of Toronto’s Rogers Broadcasting Limited.
The new multicultural station was to offer at least 60% ethnic programming; entirely ethnic programs between 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. daily; at least 60% Canadian programming overall, and 50% during the evening hours; at least 55.5 hours per week of local programming; programming directed to at least 22 ethnic groups, using a minimum of 22 distinct languages; 28 hours of original news programming each week, half of which were to be locally-oriented; a two-hour business report in Cantonese each week; programs featuring lifestyles, current affairs, entertainment, children’s programs, drama, health, cooking, comedy and music; a minimum of 10 hours each week of programs acquired from independent producers in British Columbia; and foreign ethnic movies, drama, comedy and sports programming.
The station's launch was delayed after supporters of the losing competing bid by Rogers appealed the CRTC ruling to the federal cabinet. The appeal was rejected and on December 18, the CRTC granted an extension of the time limit to commence operation to August 31, 2003.
On April 30, the CRTC approved application to transfer the assets of Multivan Broadcast Corporation to a limited partnership called Multivan Broadcast Limited Partnership (Multivan LP). The station’s ownership consisted of President and CEO Art Reitmayer and prominent Vancouver entrepreneurs Joe Segal, Robert Lee, Geoffrey Lau, James Ho and Douglas Holtby.
On June 20, the CRTC approved application by Multivan to relocate the transmitter to the CBC site on Mount Seymour, about 200 meters from the previously approved location. Approval also was given to increase average effective radiated power from 40,000 watts to 76,000 watts.
At 7:00 p.m. on June 27, the new station billing themselves as Channel M Multivision Television, officially signed on from a 37,000 square foot studio and production facility located at 88 East Pender, near the Chinese Cultural Centre in Vancouver’s Chinatown. The sign-on date coincided with National Multiculturism Day, proclaimed earlier by federal Heritage Minister Sheila Copps. The station became available on channel 8 on cable systems in metro Vancouver and on cable channel 10 on Vancouver Island. Channel M also reached agreement with CTV British Columbia to share television news footage and resources, as well as exploring other cross-promotional opportunities.
The station initially operated with 90 employees, including news anchors, journalists, producers, camera crews and other staff. About a dozen people were lured away from rival Vancouver-based Fairchild Television and Talentvision, two premium pay-TV stations primarily serving the region's large Chinese population in Cantonese and Mandarin. Channel M succeeded in landing award-winning journalists and news anchors Karen So, Endora Fan and Quan Gu, along with producers Charles Mak and Guo Ding, and reporter Iris Tong. For Punjabi broadcasts, news anchor Jasbir Cheema and reporter Harpreet Singh were among those brought on board.
On December 3 the CRTC approved application for a transmitter in Victoria, citing the applicants commitment to not solicit local advertising in Victoria and Nanaimo. The new transmitter was to operate on channel 29 with an average effective radiated power of 3,300 watts (8800 watts peak).
On October 11, the CRTC denied application to replace Channel M’s conditions of licence that restricted the number of hours of programs it might broadcast in South Asian languages and in Chinese languages, with a condition of licence that restricted the number of hours of programs it might broadcast in any one third-language. The Commission cited that approval of Multivan’s application could result in the station substantially increasing the number of programs it offered in Punjabi, Mandarin, and Cantonese, with a decrease in programming offered to the remaining ethnic groups that Channel M was required to serve. On December 2, the Commission granted extension of the time limit to commence operation of its new Victoria transmitter to December 3, 2006.
On March 10, the CRTC approved the application by Multivan Broadcast Corporation (the general partner), and 650504 B.C. Ltd., Douglas M. Holtby, Geoffrey Y.W. Lau, Robert H. Lee, Joseph Segal and RCG Forex Service Corp. (the limited partners), carrying on business as Multivan Broadcast Limited Partnership, for a licence to operate a transitional digital television undertaking in association with CHNM-TV Vancouver. The applicant proposed that the station simulcast the current analog programming service of CHNM-TV, with the exception of up to 14 hours per week of programming that would not be duplicated on the analog service. The digital undertaking would operate from the existing CHNM-TV tower on channel 20C with an average effective radiated power of 772 watts. Its new Victoria transmitter, CHNM-TV-1, channel 29 signed on in late March.
On March 28 the CRTC approved application by Multivan Broadcast Corporation for authority to effect a corporate reorganization that affected the ownership of CHNM-TV and its digital and Victoria transmitters, through the transfer of the partnership interest currently owned by 650504 B.C. Ltd. (a corporation wholly owned and controlled by Art Reitmayer) to Art Reitmayer and through the transfer of the partnership interest currently owned by RCG Forex Service Corp. (a corporation wholly owned and controlled by James Ho) to Mainstream Broadcasting Corporation (another corporation controlled by James Ho). The transactions did not change the effective control of the undertakings, as effective control continued to be exercised by the general partner of Multivan LP, Multivan Broadcast Corporation.
Just three days later, on March 31, the Commission approved application by Rogers Broadcasting Limited to acquire the assets of CHNM-TV Vancouver and its digital and Victoria transmitters from Multivan Broadcast Corporation. The CRTC's revised value of the transaction for the purpose of calculating benefits was $61,291,913. The Commission noted that it expected the licensee to maintain independent management of the news departments of CHNM-TV and its other station, "Citytv" CKVU-TV Vancouver, as well as separate presentation structures, including journalists and producers, for the broadcast of news programming. Rogers had been applying to get into the ethnic television market in Vancouver for several years including one in 2002 where the CRTC chose Multivan over Rogers.
On September 1, CHNM-TV re-launched as Rogers OMNI British Columbia, as the newest member of the Rogers OMNI Television family. CHNM continued with 55 hours per week of local programming, including newscasts in Cantonese, Korean, Mandarin, Punjabi and Tagalog, reflecting the diverse ethnocultural communities of Vancouver and Victoria in 22 languages. It additionally featured popular sitcoms and dramatic series from the U.S., along with OMNI's station-wide schedule of Chinese Super Cinema and South Asian Bollywood Freetime Movies.
Early on the morning of December 2nd, Ted Rogers, founder and former Chief Executive of Rogers Communications, owners of CHNM-TV, died at his home in Toronto, after having suffered from congestive heart failure for some time.
On August 19 the CRTC renewed CHNM-TV's (OMNI BC) licence until August 31, 2015. The renewal includes a rebroadcast transmitter in Victoria, and an application to extend the authority to begin the operation of CHNM-DT Vancouver and its transmitter in Victoria. The Commission approves the request by Rogers Broadcasting Limited to harmonize its requirement for the provision of Canadian programming across all of its OMNI stations. The Commission denies Rogers' proposal to harmonize across all of its OMNI stations the requirement to broadcast ethnic programming during "peak" time and its request to remove the conditions of licence relating to the overlap of programming between OMNI and Citytv stations. The Commission approves Rogers' request to harmonize across all of its OMNI stations the requirement to provide programming to a minimum of 20 distinct ethnic groups in a minimum of 20 distinct languages monthly and approves an amended requirement that no more than 16% of the programming be in any one foreign language during each broadcast month. The Commission approves an extension to 31 August 2011 for the deadline to commence the operation of the digital television programming undertaking CHNM-DT Vancouver and its transmitter CHNM-DT-1 Victoria. Due to unresolved issues with the filing of logs and records which raise an apparent non-compliance situation with the station CHNM-TV, the Commission is requiring Rogers to file, for the upcoming year, detailed monthly programming reports in addition to its television logs. Among the conditions of licence: The licensee shall devote to the broadcast of ethnic programs: a) not less than 60% of the total number of hours broadcast monthly between 6 a.m. and midnight; and b) not less than 50% of the total number of hours broadcast monthly between 6 p.m. and midnight.
CHNM-DT channel 20 signed on the air on December 17, using reduced power.
On February 12, the CRTC approved the application by Rogers Broadcasting Limited to change the authorized contours of the digital transitional television programming undertaking CHNM-DT by increasing the average effective radiated power from 772 watts to 4,300 watts (the maximum ERP will increase from 1,354 watts to 8,300 watts), by increasing the effective height of antenna above average terrain from 615 meters to 670 meters, and by relocating the antenna. The licensee stated that the proposed changes and the use of its own facilities would result in better signal quality for the station's Vancouver viewers.
Dianne Collins, News Director at OMNI TV Vancouver, was let go. Her last day was August 31. Collins had been with the station (formerly Channel m) for almost six years.
Over the Labour Day Weekend, OMNI BC moved from 88 East Pender Street to join Citytv at 180 West 2nd Avenue in Vancouver.
On November 8, the CRTC approved the application by Rogers Broadcasting Limited to amend the licence for CHNM-TV Vancouver in order to add a post-transition digital transmitter in Victoria. In CHNM-DT Vancouver - New transmitter in Victoria, Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2006-289, 11 July 2006, the Commission approved an application to amend the broadcasting licence for the transitional digital television programming undertaking CHNM-DT Vancouver in order to operate a transmitter in Victoria to be known as CHNM-DT-1 on channel 54B with an average effective radiated power of 78 watts. The transmitter approved in that decision was not in operation. Rogers was now requesting an amendment to the licence of CHNM-TV Vancouver in order to add a post-transition digital transmitter at Victoria to replace the transmitter approved in Broadcasting Decision 2006-289. The new transmitter would operate on channel 29 with an average ERP of 1,647 watts (maximum ERP of 2,750 watts with an effective height of antenna above average terrain of 99.6 metres).
The CRTC approved the amendment to the licence of CHNM-TV to add a post-transition digital television transmitter, on channel 20 with an effective radiated power of 8,300 watts maximum and 4,300w watts average. A directional antenna would be used with a height of 670 metres (new site). Programming would be received by microwave.
The analog to digital conversion deadline for mandatory markets was August 31. CHNM-TV channel 42 made the switch on that date, using channel 20 and full power. CHNM-DT had been on the air since 2009. The virtual channel was 42.1. The Victoria rebroadcast transmitter also switched to digital on August 31.
Bhupinder Hundal was named news manager of OMNI B.C. He had been with the station since 2004, as assignment editor, producer and reporter. Doug Cheng took over as assignment editor. Cheng had been with the station since 2008. Dianne Collins left as head of OMNI TV Vancouver, for CBC Yellowknife as managing editor, as of March 1.
Doug Cheng became the new news director at News1130 (CKWX) as of February 6. He had been assignment editor at OMNI TV Vancouver.
Renato Zane, vice president and general manager at Citytv/OMNI Vancouver, returned to Toronto for national OMNI Television news and diversity productions. It was in July 2009 that Zane moved from VP news at OMNI Toronto to become VP & general manager at Citytv Vancouver / OMNI B.C. Tamara Poirier, director of operations, was no longer with Citytv/OMNI Vancouver. The Calgary operations of the master control hub for Citytv and OMNI Television in the west would move to Toronto. Those operations had reported to Calgary GM Paula Davies but would now be handled by Virginia Gibberd, VP of Operations in Toronto. Gibberd, responsible for network operations and engineering, also had operational responsibilities for Citytv, OMNI Television, Specialty Television and Sportsnet.
Written by Gord Lansdell, Bill Dulmage - Updated April, 2013