CBC Television Networks

The development of television in Canada had been interrupted by WWII. While other countries had taken the lead in post war experimentation, Canada, realizing that television would go through a difficult and costly period, opted for the role of observer. From its studies, the government deemed it wise to delay the introduction of television until it was satisfied that it could adopt a system which would serve the best interests of the country.

That being said, Canadians living next to or near the Canada-USA border were receiving U.S. television programs with relative ease, and others further distant with high antennas could pick them up with varied clarity. But most Canadians had yet to see their first television program - and they were waiting impatiently.

In March, the Government of Canada took its first positive step when it gave the CBC permission to create TV production centers in Toronto and Montreal, and loaned it the money for the purpose.

Despite the fact that Canadian television did not exist, by 1950, 30,000 television sets were purchased in Canada, and by the next year, another 40,000 were sold.

The Royal Commission on National Development in Arts, Letters and Sciences (The Massey-Levesque Commission) recommended to Parliament a plan for the development of Canadian TV which would see the CBC establishing transmitters in a number of large cities of Canada, supplemented by private stations which would act as CBC affiliates.

On September 6th, CBFT Montreal had the honour of being the first Canadian TV station to begin regular broadcasting, programming in both French and English. CBLT Toronto followed two days later. Initially, the two stations offered 18 hours of programming a week - together, capable of reaching 30% of Canadians - a figure well exceeding the number owning TV sets.

A Bell microwave-link between Toronto and Buffalo made it possible for CBLT to carry American programs "live". A link to connect with CBFT in Montreal and to the CBC's newest station CBOT-TV, was completed in time to broadcast the June 2nd coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. CBC's TV weekly programming rose to 30 hours.

Canada's first privately owned television station CKSO-TV (CBC's first private affiliate) came on the air October 25. With infinite ingenuity and lacking a direct source of networked programs, by providing a mixture of locally-produced features, theatrical films and kinescopes (video recordings) of CBC-produced programs shipped by air daily from Toronto, CKSO-TV pioneered a mode of television broadcasting that endured until the microwave system linked the station to Toronto in 1956.

CFPL-TV London, hard on the heels of CKSO-TV, became the second private affiliate on November 28th.

On December 16th, Vancouver's CBUT became the first TV station to be built in western Canada.

The year saw 3 more CBC TV stations in operation - CBC's English language station, CBMT Montreal, (January 10) leaving CBFT to program French language only, CBWT in Winnipeg (May 31) and CBHT in Halifax (December 20th).

Fifteen private affiliates of the CBC came on the air - in Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon, Sault Ste. Marie, Windsor, Kitchener, Hamilton, Kingston, Quebec City, Moncton, Sydney, Saint John, N.B. and Port Arthur (Thunder Bay) and Rimouski.

With 7 CBC stations and 17 privately owned affiliates, the reach of CBC programming rose in two years to 60%, with the number of Canadians owning receivers climbing from 150,000 to almost one million.

Eight more private stations came alive - in Lethbridge, Brandon, North Bay, Wingham, Barrie, Peterborough, Jonquiere and St. Johns.

CBOFT-TV came on the air June 25th, the CBC-owned second French language station.

By March, the Bell Telephone microwave connected stations in Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa, Peterborough, Kingston, Toronto, Hamilton, Kitchener, London and Windsor. The CBC continued to use kinescope recordings to serve all other cities.

Private stations were born in Victoria, Charlottetown, Timmins and Sherbrooke.

The first television broadcast of the opening of Parliament could have been accessed by 66% of all Canadians.

Television was brought by private stations to Kamloops, Kelowna, Medicine Hat, Swift Current, Red Deer, Noranda and an English station in Quebec City.

The Report of the Royal Commission on Broadcasting established December 2, 1955 by Order in Council, was tabled on March 15th. The "Fowler Report", so-named for its chairman, Robert Fowler, ranged over a wide number of issues and had a significant impact on policy development. Overriding all other recommendations was the separation of the CBC from the role of regulator, and the creation of a single system. All Canadian radio and television stations (and networks), public and private, would be integral parts - regulated and supervised by an agency representing the public interest and responsible to Parliament.

Live network arrived in Alberta via microwave in time for the World Series Baseball.

Two more private stations were added to the English TV network - in Prince Albert and Yorkton, and 2 French language stations in Matane and Trois Rivieres.

The CBC English Television Network, now numbering 46 stations (only 6 of which were CBC-owned) and accessible by 91% of Canadians, celebrated its status as the world's longest television network by broadcasting a July 1 program via microwave from links stretching between Victoria, British Columbia and Sydney, Nova Scotia.

Live network service came to CBHT-TV Halifax thanks to microwave.

The CBC's French Network comprised 8 private stations and CBFT-TV Montreal and CBOFT-TV Ottawa providing the Network programming.

On September 6, Bill C-55 was passed by Parliament as The Broadcasting Act, bringing the regulation and supervision of the network and all future networks - and, for that matter, all broadcasting - under the responsibility of the Board of Broadcast Governors (BBG) which was formed on November 10.

Four more private stations began broadcasting in Dawson Creek, Moose Jaw, Carleton, Que., and Cornwall.

The CBC established CBY-TV in Cornerbrook.

CBHT Halifax added re-broadcast transmitters at Liverpool, Shelbourne and Yarmouth.

A private station started operations in Lloydminster and the CBC added CBWFT-TV Winnipeg to its French Network.

The Board of Broadcast Governors (BBG) held hearings for "second" private stations in eight of the largest cities in Canada. The first of these stations came on the air in Calgary and Vancouver.

The arrival of the microwave brought live CBC Network programming to British Columbia.

More "second" stations came on the air in Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax.

Efforts began to form a network involving these stations and eventually came to fruition when the BBG granted a licence to CTN the Canadian Television Network to be operated by a consortium headed by Spence Caldwell, a failed applicant for the "second " TV licence in Toronto. (see The History of the CTV Network).

After much negotiation, CTN started in the fall.

The CBC established its own transmitter to serve Edmonton (CBXT-TV) and CFRN-TV switched to CTN.

One private station started in Prince George, B.C.

One more private station came on the air in Terrace, B.C.

CBVT-TV Quebec City came on the air as the CBC's fourth French station joining CBFT-TV Montreal, CBOFT-TV Ottawa, CBWFT-TV Winnipeg and 9 private affiliates.

CBC launched CBNT-TV in St John's Newfoundland, leaving CJON-TV to join CTN.

Colour TV came to Canada when the CBC was authorized to spend an initial $15-million to convert its facilities, equipment and transmitters to the specifications needed for colour TV.

CBC was host broadcaster for Expo ’67, the World’s Fair called Man And His World, which ran for six months on a group of man-made islands on the St. Lawrence River in Montreal to mark the 100th Anniversary of Canada’s Confederation. Over 650,000,000 viewers in 70 countries were estimated to have watched the Opening Ceremonies on April 28th, and scores of radio and television crews from all over the world used the CBC’s International Broadcast Centre at Expo ’67 to send coverage back to their respective countries.

In July, the CBC was also the host broadcaster for the Pan-American Games, which were held over a two-week period in Winnipeg.

The CBC English Network was now broadcasting 30 hours per week of colour programming, and the CBC French Network was originating approximately 15 hours.

By an act of Parliament (The Broadcasting Act) proclaimed April 1, the Canadian Radio-Television Commission (CRTC) succeeded the Board of Broadcast Governors (BBG) as the regulator and supervisor of public and private broadcasting.

CFCY-TV Charlottetown, which had been founded in 1955 by the family of Col. Keith Rogers, became an owned-and-operated station of the CBC - the call letters changing to CBCT-TV.

The CBC Network's aim to serve Canadians everywhere was re-enforced when Telesat Corporation (Telestat Canada) was created, with a mandate toward providing the first synchronous-orbit satellite designed to add improved efficiency for domestic communications.

CBC bought CHRE-TV Moose Jaw / Regina which became CBKT-TV, with CKCK-TV switching to CTN.

CBC's networks began to be carried on the newly-established Anik-1 satellite, aiding in expanding the scope of CBC's reach, particularly to areas of the far north that formerly were dependent on receiving CBC's national prime-time programming via Frontier Coverage Packages.

CHUM purchased CJCB-TV Sydney in March 1971 and CKCW-TV Moncton, New Brunswick and both switched to CTV when the CBC's CBIT-TV Sydney went on the air.

The Accelerated Coverage Plan proposed by the CBC, was approved by the government. The plan required the underserved Canadian communities of over 500 people to receive service efficiently and in the appropriate language.

In December, the CBC's Northern Service began to use the Anik satellite for its broadcasts, which allowed for a wide range of service supplied by production centres in Montreal, Frobisher Bay, Inuvik and Yellowknife.

CBC opened its own TV station in Calgary (CBRT-TV), and on September 1, CFAC-TV disaffiliated from the network and became an independent.

The Canadian Radio-Television Commission was re-named The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission.

CFPL-TV London and CKNX-TV Wingham dropped their affiliation with the CBC Network.

As a result, the Corporation opened re-broadcasting transmitters in Chatham, Kitchener, Paris, Wiarton, Simcoe, Sarnia and Wingham, effectively covering all of South-Western Ontario with programming from CBLT Toronto.

The last CBC Television broadcast from the old Studio One (where the station's first broadcast took place) occurred on March 18.

All of CBC Toronto's operations moved to the new Canadian Broadcasting Centre at 250 Front Street West.

On August 29, CBC affiliate CHSJ-TV Saint John, New Brunswick ceased to exist. It became CBAT, owned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. New Brunswick had been the only province not served by a CBC owned and operated English language TV station. CBAT uses its existing facility in Fredericton as the main studio.

CBAT had re-broadcasters at Bon Accord, Moncton, Chatham/Newcastle, Campbellton, Doaktown and Boisetown.

Between 1984 and 1994, the CBC had suffered 5 major spending cuts representing 30% of its grants from the Federal Government and resulting in staff reductions from 1,200 to just over 9,000. Many of the secondary market owned and operated stations were forced to cut out local production entirely or it was severely restricted.

On September 1st, CKVR-TV Barrie dropped its affiliation with the CBC Network to go Independent.

On that date, CBLT opened three re-broadcasters in Barrie, Huntsville and Parry Sound.

The CBC purchased the MCTV CBC affiliated stations in Northern Ontario from CTV Inc. CFCL-TV-3 Kapuskasing. CFCL-TV-2 Kearns, CHNB-TV North Bay, CJIC-TV Sault Ste. Marie, CKNC-TV Sudbury and CFCL-TV Timmins, became rebroadcasters of CBLT.

In Saskatchewan the CBC purchased CJFB-TV Swift Current from the Forst family, CKOS-TV Yorkton and CKBI-TV Prince Albert from CTV Inc.

CBLT began digital operations on channel 20 from the CN Tower. The inaugural weekend schedule on March 5 and 6 included a premiere of the Nature of Things: Nature Bites Back – The Case of the Sea Otter. CBC HD then broadcast highlights from past and upcoming HD projects, including Hockey: A People's History, which was still in production at the time. . HD programming was based on the regular network schedule, with HD and wide-screen programming simulcast when available.

At 12:01am on August 15th, the CBC and Radio-Canada locked out their 5500 employees. Months of negotiations had failed to achieve agreement between the Corporation and the Canadian Media Guild on the key matter of the Corporation's wish to significantly increase the number of contract employees to replace staff as attrition occurred. When the membership ratified a new Agreement early in October, the Canadian Media Guild said that 3,514 ballots were cast and 88.4 per cent voted in favour of ratification.

Under the agreement, wages would increase by 12.6 per cent over the life of the contract, which would remain in effect until March 31, 2009.

On February 1st, the CRTC approved an application by Jim Pattison Broadcast Group Limited Partnership, to amend the broadcasting licence for the television programming undertaking CFJC-TV Kamloops and its transmitters, in order to delete the condition of licence requiring that the station be operated as an affiliate of the CBC's national, English-language television network.

On April 7th, the CRTC approved an application by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to amend the broadcasting licence for the television programming undertaking CBNT St. John's in order to operate transmitters at Hopedale, Makkovik, Nain and Postville. The transmitters would enable viewers in the above-mentioned communities to receive programming originating from CBNT St. John's.

The transmitters were at the time operated by the CBC as a radiocommunication distribution undertaking (RDU), which rebroadcast the programming of the CBC Northern Television Service.

The CBC had advised the Commission that improvements in satellite feed technology now permitted it to provide these communities with the full CBNT St. John's program schedule. The CBC noted that it was thus no longer necessary that it hold a separate RDU licence for these transmitters and asked that the licence be revoked.

Accordingly, the Commission revoked the broadcasting licence issued to the CBC with respect to the above-noted RDU.

On November 5th, Hubert T. Lacroix was appointed President and CEO of CBC/Radio-Canada on November 5, 2007, for a five-year term, commencing on January 1, 2008. He succeeded Robert Rabinovitch.

Before joining CBC/Radio-Canada, Mr. Lacroix had been with Stikeman Elliott, a law firm, and prior thereto, he had acted as Executive Chairman of Telemedia Corporation and of the other Boards of Directors of the various companies in the Telemedia corporate structure. Before joining Telemedia, he had been a Senior Partner at McCarthy Tétrault, a major Canadian law firm.

On February 28 the CBC announced that it welcomed CBC/Radio-Canada: Defining Distinctiveness in the Changing Media Landscape, the report issued on that date by the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

"It's positively encouraging to see the Committee recognize the value of public broadcasting to Canadians – on all platforms, old, new and emerging," said Hubert T. Lacroix. "In the face of sweeping cultural, technological and industrial change, Canadians need a place for distinctive Canadian content. This report to the Government asserts the meaning and importance of public broadcasting for all Canadians, and shows how it improves our democratic and cultural lives."

From the report itself: "The Committee regards CBC/Radio-Canada as an essential public institution that plays a crucial role in bringing Canadians closer together… The vast majority of the evidence stressed the distinctiveness of CBC/Radio-Canada, reflected in the quality, originality and creativity of its programming. Being distinctive should not however mean being inaccessible. Its services must be accessible to the various elements of the Canadian public."

On June 28th, the CRTC approved an application by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to acquire the assets of the French-language television programming undertakings CKSH-TV Sherbrooke, CKTM-TV Trois-Rivières and CKTV-TV Saguenay and its transmitter CKTV-TV-1 Saint-Fulgence, Quebec, from TQS Inc, and for new broadcasting licences to continue the operation of the undertakings under the same terms and conditions as those in effect under the current licences.

On February 2nd 2009, it was reported that members of the Canadian Media Guild had voted overwhelmingly in favour of a new five-year collective agreement with CBC/Radio-Canada. A full 93 per cent of members approved the historic deal, which had been reached in late 2008, four months ahead of the expiry of the previous agreement.

"The new agreement is based on the principle that people are the foundation of everything that CBC/Radio-Canada does," said Hubert T. Lacroix. "We're working together to strengthen our ability to deliver as the national public broadcaster."

On September 14th, CBC Television announced that it had joined with other major conventional Canadian broadcasters, CTV, Global and others, to create Local TV Matters, an alliance aimed at informing Canadians about critical issues affecting local television programming specifically and the conventional broadcasting model in general.

The CRTC had announced its intention to set up a framework to permit conventional broadcasters and cable and satellite companies to negotiate a value for local signals.

With the CRTC deadline to receive submissions on these and other related issues becoming due on that day, "the broadcasters, in an unprecedented move, have determined the need to come together to reinforce the importance and value of diversity and choice within the Canadian media landscape", said Steven Guiton, CBC/Radio-Canada's chief regulatory officer.

On November 17th, the CBC appeared before the CRTC to ask for an end to the "free-riding" by broadcast distribution undertakings (BDUs) on conventional television services. The CBC said that the system had become so imbalanced that the CRTC acknowledged that it could not afford to sit idly by, given the threat to the future of high-quality, local Canadian programming.

"The conventional television financial model in Canada is collapsing," said CBC/Radio-Canada President Hubert T. Lacroix. "Without a major correction that will allow conventional broadcasters to get a fair price for their signals, Canadians will have to start getting used to seeing stations shut down and high-quality programming disappear."

The CBC presented the CRTC with a proposed regulatory framework for correcting the current inequities in the system, which it said would ensure the future of conventional broadcasting and the survival of local content for the benefit of all Canadians. As was customary, the Commission reserved its decision.

On March 22, the CBC responded to a just-announced CRTC decision regarding value-for-signal, by stating that, in its view, the CRTC had " today failed to fulfill its responsibility to maintain a healthy broadcast system that serves the interests of Canadians."

In its newly announced framework for conventional broadcasting, the CRTC had allowed private broadcasters to negotiate a fair value for their signals with cable and satellite companies, but denied that same right to CBC/Radio-Canada.

On August 6th, with Canada's switch from analogue to digital over-the-air television just over a year away, CBC/Radio-Canada released the details of its plan for the transition.

CBC/Radio-Canada would be installing digital transmitters in all of the markets in which it produced original television programming, for a total of 27 transmitters. Fifteen of the 27 transmitters would be operational by August 2011, with the remaining twelve to be operational by or before August 2012.

The Corporation would continue to offer analogue service beyond the August 31, 2011 shut-off date established by government in all markets not identified by the CRTC as mandatory for digital transmission. It had also filed a request to the CRTC to allow a temporary extension of analogue service in those markets not slated for transition until after the August 2011 deadline.

Also on August 6th, CBC President Hubert T. Lacroix announced the departure of Richard Stursberg, executive vice-president, English services, from CBC/Radio-Canada. Kirstine Stewart, general manager, CBC Television, would take on the position of executive vice-president, English services, on an interim basis.

On August 9th, the CRTC renewed the broadcasting licences for the stations in the CBC Television Network from 1 September 2010 to 31 March 2011, subject to the terms and conditions in effect under the current licences.

On January 10th, the CBC announced that Kirstine Stewart, who since August 2010 had been the interim Executive Vice-President of English Services, had been confirmed in the position, responsible for the national public broadcaster's English Services. The change was effective immediately.

On March 21st, the CRTC renewed the broadcasting licences for the CBC Television Network stations from 1 April 2011 to 31 August 2012, subject to the terms and conditions in effect under the then-current licences.

On June 17th, the CRTC announced that it would hold a hearing on September 12th, to consider the CBC's applications for the renewal of all their various English and French radio and television networks. However, on July 8th the CRTC announced that it was postponing the licence renewal hearing for the CBC until June 2012.

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.

On August 16th, the CRTC announced that it would allow the CBC to continue to operate 22 of its analog television rebroadcasting transmitters in cities in Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Quebec and New Brunswick, until August 31st 2012. In announcing their decision, the CRTC said that approval of the CBC's proposal, and its related technical amendments, would provide additional time for affected households that relied on over-the-air service in mandatory markets to find other means to access the CBC's television services. Approval of the proposal would also provide an opportunity for the Commission to discuss the CBC's plans for its over-the-air transmitter system at the time of the CBC's licence renewal hearing, now scheduled for June 2012.

On August 18th, the CBC had its Television Network licence renewed to August 2012, subject to the terms and conditions in effect under the then-current licence.

On December 15th 2011, the CBC filed with the Commission the additional data that had been requested.

On January 31st, the CBC wrote to the CRTC, requesting more time to establish its future operating budget before being faced with the imposition of any new licence conditions.

On February 1st, the CRTC published a Notice of Consultation that stated that the Commission considered that it would be inappropriate to set a hearing date for the renewal of the CBC’s licences until the CBC had had an opportunity to establish its future operating budget. The Commission was therefore postponing the licence renewal hearing until further notice.

See also attached article from Broadcast Dialogue,
and follow this link to a detailed history of CBLT-TV News personalities:
(courtesy of compiler Jay-Dell Mah)

Written by J. Lyman Potts
Updates by Pip Wedge January, 2012