CJFB-TV was the third television station to be established in Saskatchewan and signed on the air December 23rd 1957 at 6 p.m. The opening of the station was viewed as a Christmas present for the people of Swift Current and Southwest Saskatchewan. The studio and transmitter were built on land overlooking the city (about two and a half miles north of town) and with its 360-foot tower, it became known as Television Hill. Operating power was 9,000 watts video ERP and 4,500 watts audio ERP. CJFB-TV, a CBC supplementary affiliate, was on the air daily from 4:00 p.m. to midnight in its earliest days. The station claimed to be Canada's first television station to use automated programming. When the station was launched, it was built using state of the art equipment and with a series of transmitters located across the Southwest, CJFB-TV brought television for the first time in history to viewers in Swift Current, as well as to communities in Shaunavon, Eastend, Maple Creek, Val Marie, Pontiex, Riverhurst and Elrose.
| Bill Forst
CJFB-TV was a unique station in Saskatchewan and its original founders, Bill and Julie Forst, combined to manage the broadcast outlet from beginning to end. Bill Forst was also a quarter owner of CKSW-AM in Swift Current. Innovative and independent, the Forst family in Swift Current maintained and operated Channel 5 for a total of 45 years.
A rebroadcast transmitter was added at Riverhurst on October 14.
By this time, CJFB-TV had an effective radiated power of 13,300 watts video and 6,650 watts audio and operated rebroadcast transmitters at East End (CJFB-TV-1), Val Marie (CJFB-TV-2) and Riverhurst (CJFB-TV-3). William D. Forst was president of Swift Current Telecasting Co. Ltd.
CJFB-TV had a long and distinct history in the community. With the leadership and foresight of its original owners, the station pioneered a number of achievements, which were adopted not only by television broadcasters in the province, but also by networks across the country.The station was the first in Canada to broadcast its own satellite weather information, through the use of antennae-tracking and facsimile equipment that was built and assembled at the station. This type of weather broadcasting was the forerunner in Canada and allowed viewers to gain important information of changing weather patterns and pending prairie storms.The station is also credited with the creation of the Kinsmen Telethon in the province, an event that has grown to become a provincially televised fundraiser called Telemiracle. This unique broadcast is recognized nationally for the tens of millions of dollars that it has raised for local individuals with disabilities in Saskatchewan.
|(L to R) Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson being interviewed in studio by reporter Don Hoskins. (from mid 60's)
Slogan: CJFB-TV - a crossroads to the West.
By this time, CFJB-TV had the following rebroadcast transmitters: CFJB-TV-1 Eastend, CFJB-TV-2 Val Marie and CFJB-TV-3 Riverhurst.
CJFB-TV purchased studio and portable equipment to improve local programming. The CBC was planning new facilities at Shaunavon to replace the existing CJFB-TV rebroadcaster there.
CJFB had plans to upgrade its rebroadcast transmitters at Eastend and Val Marie.
On January 11, the CRTC renewed CJFB-TV's licence until September 30, 1985.
CJFB-TV became the only independently owned television station in Saskatchewan when Baton Broadcasting Inc. of Toronto acquired television stations in Regina, Yorkton and Prince Albert. The company already owned CFQC-TV in Saskatoon.
On January 23, the CRTC approved the application to amend the licence for CFJB-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.
Throughout its history, the television station was a vehicle for aspiring broadcasters. The training they received at CJFB TV was the beginning of numerous careers, but it was the efforts of long term employees who kept the station active and visible in the community. These included sales manager Walter Buffam, chief engineer Gary Shepherd, news anchor Gord Foth and producer Wade Bergstrom.CJFB TV closed its local studios on May 31, 2002 and the station's transmitters, towers and land were sold to CBC television. It operates today as a broadcast repeater. Network programming originates from its facilities in Toronto. News and Public affairs are provided through studios in Regina. The transmitter and towers remain on the original site in Swift Current.CJFB TV held an open house before its closing and invited viewers to tour the facilities for a final time and reminisce about the past. As with their official launch in 1957, people came from across Southwest Saskatchewan. The era of local television was now at an end, but remarkably, the gift that had been presented to the community in 1957 had managed to last for almost half a century.
|CJFB-TV raising the original transmitter to the top of the 360' tower overlooking Swift Current. (from Fall, 1957)
As is customary the CRTC revoked the licence for Swift Current Telecasting's CJFB-TV on May 31, including CJFB-TV-1 Eastend, CJFB-TV-3 Riverhurst and CJFB-TV-2 Val Marie and licences was issued to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to operate transmitters of CBKT Regina at Swift Current (Channel 5 with effective radiated power of 13,300 watts) and Riverhurst (Channel 10, ERP of 390 watts). The Val Marie and Eastend transmitters would not be recquired by the CBC.
CJFB-TV Swift Current became CBKT-4 while CJFB-TV-3 Riverhurst became CBKT-5.
Written by Bill Dulmage with input from Lee Friesen (July, 2006) and source information of Swift Current Telecasting's Julie Forst - Updated March, 2011