CBC English Radio Networks
CBC English Radio Networks
The Canadian Broadcasting Act replaced the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Act passed by Parliament on May 26, 1932, which had established the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (CRBC).
The new Act gave CBC authority to operate a national radio system, and with the approval of the Governor in Council to (among other powers) establish new stations and to acquire (existing) private stations by purchase. Also, the Corporation was empowered to make regulations governing programs and commercials, including the amount of time devoted to commercial messages. The Act specifically prohibited the dramatization of political broadcasts and required the identification of the sponsors of all political programs. Networks (of radio stations) could not be operated without prior approval of the Corporation.
The CBC consisted of a Board of Governors of nine persons (all part-time members) appointed by the Governor-in-Council and chosen to give representation to the principal geographic divisions of Canada. Leonard. W. Brockington of Winnipeg was elected the CBC's first Chairman. The Governor-in-Council approved the Board's unanimous recommendation for the appointment of Gladstone Murray (General Manager) and Dr. Augustin Frigon (Assistant General Manager).
Defined by its chairman as the two main overall duties of the Board of Governors were: (1) to make it possible for every Canadian to hear the programs of the CBC and (2) to provide the best possible programming. Surveys revealed that Canada had excellent available talent, and that there were programs available from networks in the USA, and from England and France. However, surveys also showed that only 49% of the population was currently able to hear the CRBC programs which had been carried over networks linking government-owned and privately-owned stations. The Board adopted a policy to increase coverage to 84% of the population. This could involve the establishment of new CBC stations, acquisition of private stations or arrangements with existing private stations to carry a specified number of hours of CBC programs a week, and/or making other hours available to either the designated ("basic") stations or to other stations in any centre served by network lines.
Prior to this, CBC had taken on approximately 44 hours of weekly programming established by the CRBC (50% of which were filled with phonorecords), assumed ownership of the stations acquired by the CRBC - its arrangements with private stations for the carrying of network programs - and the leases of the complete facilities of some private stations (notably CKGW Toronto which served as the key station for the network as CRCT - later, CBL).
The ability to receive U.S. programs from a local Canadian station rather than trying to pick them up from distant American stations proved very popular with Canadian listeners, especially those living great distances from the U.S. border, and did much to encourage extended listening to local stations.
In addition, Canadian advertisers climbed on board by sponsoring CBC and agency-produced Canadian programming like The Happy Gang, John and Judy, Brave Voyage, Share the Wealth, Hockey Night in Canada (the latter previously carried on an ad hoc network set-up by the MacLaren Advertising Agency)
This policy not only helped to create a Canadian broadcasting industry, but enabled CBC to "win-over" more Canadians from coast-to-coast to listen to programs employing Canadian actors, musicians, singers, writers, composers and other Canadian talent.
(This pattern was repeated during the formative era of television)
With all but 4 private Canadian stations limited to maximum power of 1,000 watts (exceptions were CFRB Toronto and CFCN Calgary, both "grandfathered" at 10,000 watts, and CKAC Montreal and CKLW Windsor with 5,000 watts), the CBC proceeded with its objective of increasing its owned-and-operated stations to the maximum power permitted by international agreement. CKGW Toronto was bought from Gooderam and Worts and moved to the "clear frequency" of 740 kHz with power of 50,000 watts (December 1937), and call letters changed to CBL. Coincidentally, in the same year, the Corporation built CBF in Montreal, placing it on 690 kHz - another clear channel. CBF later became the key station of the CBC French Network, embracing newly-established CBV Quebec, CBJ Chicoutimi and private stations in New Carlisle and Rimouski - supplemented by private stations in Hull, Sherbrooke and Rouyn. CBM Montreal, formerly CRCM, with 5,000 watts took over CBF's English programming. In 1939, the Maritime provinces were given CBA in Sackville, NB on 1070 kHz, and listeners on the prairies were bestowed with CBK, strategically positoned at Watrous, Saskatchewan at 540 kHz - both 50,000-watters. CBR (later CBU) Vancouver and CBO Ottawa, were each given power increases to 5,000 watts - the international limit on their frequencies.
(In succeeding years, CBC's Alberta coverage was beefed-up with the additions of CBX Edmonton (ultimately 50,000 on 740 kHz replacing CBX Lacombe), and CBR Calgary in 1964 with 50,000 watts on 1010 kHz. Earlier, in 1948, to improve coverage in Manitoba, CBC bought the original CKY from the Manitoba Government, dubbed it CBW and upped its power from 15,000 to 50,000 watts on 990 kHz).
However, while the private stations selected to affiliate with the CBC network were happy to acquire some of the greatest radio attractions in the world, the programming and the income of other broadcasters in two-and-three-station markets suffered. CBC affiliates had first-choice in carrying CBC sustaining (non-sponsored) programs not included in their reserved time agreement, but the CBC did offer the remainder of any they wished to carry to the non-affiliates. In Southern Ontario, where Hamilton and St. Catharines stations existed under the umbrella of CBL's 50 kW transmitter at Hornby, CKOC, CHML and CKTB were regarded only as "supplementary stations". If sponsors paid the extra cost, CBC would add them. Meanwhile, they were welcome to share carriage of the network's sustaining programs. Similarly, in two-station markets across Canada, the CBC obtained extra coverage of its sustaining programs at no cost.
In its report for the fiscal year ending March 31 1938, CBC stated that assured national coverage for network programs was estimated to reach 76% of Canada's population - up from its 1936 figure of 49%.
As CBC continued to nurture its mandate, it set-up regional networks in the five time zones across the country to cater to the special needs and interests of the area.
CBC decided to turn CBY into the key station for its Dominion Network. The power would be increased to 50,000 watts and it could be engineered to share the tower and other facilities of CBL at Hornby. The frequency of 860 - a clear channel - had been previously designated for CBC's use, and CBC moved CBY from 1010 to 860, displacing CFRB which had occupied the channel for several years. CBY became CJBC - the key station of the CBC Dominion Network - when it was formed January 1, 1944. CFPL London and CKX Brandon were deleted from the original network and became Dominion affiliates. The first sponsored program was the intellectual NBC Monday night panel show Information Please chaired by Clifton Fadiman, which, on April 15th, preceded the full compliment of programs that began in the fall. CJBC was the only CBC-owned station on the Dominion Network - all others were privately owned. To manage the new network, the Corporation hired away from CKWX Vancouver Spence Caldwell who, 17 years later, founded the CTV Network. The first CBC network became The Trans-Canada Network.
A similar problem had arisen in Montreal when the Canadian Marconi Company's station CFCF refused CBC's wish for it to be the Dominion affiliate. Subsequently, Arthur Dupont, then CBC's Commercial Manager for Quebec, applied for and received a licence to establish CJAD, ostensibly to become the Dominion affiliate. However, before he could get it on the air, CFCF had a change-of-mind, and signed-up as the Dominion affiliate. Perhaps as consolation or compensation for losing the Dominion Network, CJAD was allowed to share with CKAC some programs from the U.S.A. network - CBS.
Eventually and gradually, the private stations were "freed" of the forced affiliations when CBC was able to fund the establishment of FM transmitters to replace them. As a consequence, CBC gained full-time program coverage in these areas.
Over the years, CBC devised various ways to bring its programs to under-served areas. One was the establishment of low-power-repeater-transmitters (LPRTs) in small communities served by Canadian National and Canadian Pacific telegraph lines which carried the network across Canada. In some instances (as in Thunder Bay) they built a conventional AM station. In 1949, after Newfoundland joined Confederation, the network was extended to include the four publicly owned stations of the Broadcasting Federation of Newfoundland.
The CBC French FM Network opened.
With the licensing of FM stations in 1960, to strengthen its AM network program coverage, the CBC began to use FM repeaters connected to CBC studios in major centres. In 1970 a review of the CBC's services recommended that to reach target audiences, CBC Radio be aligned into distinctive networks in French and English. The focus of the senior networks would be on news and light entertainment, whereas the new networks of FM stations as they appeared would offer specialized programming of a more serious nature.
As FM receivers flooded the country, with listeners showing a preference for the medium, CBC, in many key locations, began to replace its AM transmitters with FM transmitters that provided steady and better reception, and at the same time surrendered many formerly-prized frequencies. Retained, were AM 50-kW transmitters in some areas (such as the prairies) where available FM frequencies were lacking to assure duplication of the vast existing coverage.
CRTC approved CBC's application to switch its Toronto and Montreal stations from AM to FM.
On November 19, the CBC was granted a licence for a transitional digital radio undertaking to serve Montréal. The transmitter would be installed at the Mont Royal tower and employ the EUREKA-147 digital audio broadcasting system. CBF-FM would operate on frequency 1458,048 MHz with effective isotropic radiated power of 11,724 watts.
Hubert T. Lacroix succeeded Robert Rabinowich as President of the CBC.
Because of a total lack of interest in digital radio by all parties involved, the CBC advised the CRTC that it proposed to cease operation of its Montreal and Toronto digital radio transmitters. On June 15, at the Corporation’s request, the Commission revoked the broadcasting licence issued to the CBC for these transmitters.
The Commission advised that the decision had been made for two reasons. First, it was made further to a request by the Quebec English-language Production Committee (QEPC) for the same data that had been available for the group-based licence renewals for private English-language television, held in April 2011.
Second, the CBC/SRC had that day advised that the federal government had not yet established the future operating budget for the CBC. The CRTC believed therefore that it would be inappropriate to impose licence conditions given this uncertainty. Consequently, the CRTC had decided to postpone the renewal hearing until June 2012. A revised notice of consultation would be issued in due course, with new procedural dates.
See also attached article from Broadcast Dialogue.
J. Lyman Potts - July, 2011