CTV Television Network
CTV Television Network
Prior to 1958, the CBC had issued TV licences to itself for 7 TV stations (2 in Montreal) in 6 major Canadian cities. Lacking funds to properly cover all of Canada, the Government had to allow licensing of private stations in 35 other cities, all of which were obliged to carry programs from the CBC's Television Networks (French & English).
Responding to the public outcry for alternate choice from CBC programs, the BBG announced that they would consider applications for "second" television stations in eight major cities across Canada - Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver - public hearings to be held early in 1959. At this time Calgary and Edmonton were each served by a private station, and the others by the 7 CBC-owned stations.
The BBG hearings began in Winnipeg in January and then moved to Vancouver; in March to Montreal and Toronto, and Edmonton and Calgary in April; Ottawa and Halifax in June.
The victors were - Halifax - the Finlay MacDonald group - CJCH-TV; Montreal - the Canadian Marconi Co. - CFCF-TV; Ottawa - Ernie Bushnell's group - CJOH-TV; Toronto - Baton - the Bassett group - CFTO-TV; Winnipeg - the Moffat group - CJAY-TV (CKY-TV); Edmonton - the CBC (CBXT), (which would relieve CFRN-TV of its CBC affiliation); Calgary - the Love organization - CFCN-TV; Vancouver - the Vantel group - CHAN-TV (BCTV).
One of the losing applicants in Toronto was Spence Caldwell. He immediately started efforts to link the successful applicants by a network which he would control. The stations were not happy with his approach, but neither did most want the bigger market stations to have control. In the end, they formed the Independent Television Organization (ITO) as a counter to his idea.
This in-fighting was spread over the 12 to 18 months it took for the stations to get on the air.
After much wrangling with Bassett and the BBG, Caldwell did get seven signatures from the group to proceed with his application for a network, which was finally granted by the BBG in time for the 1961 CFL Football season to be telecast in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.
The new stations had started operations during the 60/61 TV season:
Only Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto were connected by microwave but there was some exchange of Canadian programs with the other stations. Through the ITO alliance, they were able to acquire the Canadian rights to many U. S. programs.
Television Football rights played a large part in Caldwell's efforts to get the network established, both at the BBG and negotiation at station level of his access as CTN had leased the only available micro-wave connection.
Finally, after much negotiating, involving the ITO, Caldwell and the BBG, Caldwell was granted his network licence.
The network was called The Canadian Television Network - CTN.
CTN's first full season started on October 1st 1961, after much pressure to get a national microwave system in place. In the beginning the only live transmission was in Southern Ontario. During the "off hours" of the CBC Network, CTN used the Telco's micro-wave to send programs to the rest of the country, to be run on a taped-delay basis.
Later, confusing the situation even more, CTN purchased the TV rights to the Western Conference of the CFL.
Gradually, as a second microwave channel became available, the "live" network moved across the country.
The stations tried to work in harmony with the Caldwell network but it was always difficult since it was a forced marriage. Negotiating for programming found ITO and CTN bidding for the same U. S. shows and there was seldom agreement when it came to Canadian productions, most of which were being produced by member stations.
But the second season (62/63) was not much better than the first. There was still unhappiness in both the network and station camps. Advertising revenues were disappointing, and the changes in ownership at some of the stations didn't help smooth the way for the Network. The stations, in an effort to give the Network a chance to prove itself, agreed to have ITO back-off for a couple of seasons, but there was still no sign that things would improve.
In October, upon the opening of the CBC's CBNT in St. John's, CJON-TV switched networks from CBC to CTV. The station was owned by Geoff Stirling and Don Jamieson.
At the urging of CFTO's John Bassett, CKCO-TV Kitchener switched networks, from CBC to CTV.
The government again called on Robert Fowler, head of a previous Royal Commission into broadcasting, to come up with recommendations.
Concerned by the implications, the stations met with Caldwell, and at a Board meeting on October 1st he resigned, and his Vice-President, Gordon Keeble took over the helm of the Network.
The stations met with the BBG on February 23rd. Eddie Goodman, Baton's CFTO lawyer, presented their case. Murray Chercover showed a tape of proposed programs, with network time rising to about 60 hours, and the programming budget rising to $8.5 million - with $4.5 million of that to be spent on Canadian productions.
The Board took less than two weeks to give the group of eleven stations authority to buy the network. This co-operative was based on "one corporate ownership - one vote" - so that no matter how many stations that one owner might accumulate, it would still have only one vote.
Caldwell's investors were paid-off and plans were started for the 66/67 fall TV season.
A new CTV logo was born, and was still in use in 2002 - the red "C", the blue "T" and the green "V" - just in time for the start of colour TV in Canada, Sept. 1st, 1967.
One of the longest-running CTV programs, "W5" (Who, What, Where, When and Why?) was launched just after the demise of CBC's "This Hour Has Seven Days".
The CRTC kept asking CTV to expand its service to the smaller communities of Canada, usually served by a private broadcaster which carried the CBC network service. By 1968, the CTV reached only 70% of English-speaking Canada, compared to the CBC's 93%.
These smaller communities were concerned that the competition from the larger centres, if done by competitive re-broadcasting transmitters, would threaten their survival. A number of them banded together to make an appeal to the Commission that there could be loss of local service if outside competition was allowed without some consultation with the existing station in these areas.
As a result, the CRTC encouraged the CTV stations to make arrangements with these smaller market stations to ensure their survival. These negotiations took several different courses:
One was "Twin Stick" - which allowed CTV to put their re-broadcast antennae on the existing tower in the smaller community and allow the local station to substitute local commercials for the "local" commercials of the bigger station, thereby helping the smaller station to maintain its revenue base.
Some small stations opted to sell to the nearby CTV station, or amalgamate with it.
The more entrepreneurial small market broadcaster fought back by expanding its operations into large markets. All of this evolved over several years.
CFCN-TV went on the air in Lethbridge on channel 13 on September 3rd.
During these formative years, the larger operations of Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Ottawa were vying for a piece of the CTV production "pie". However hard the others tried, every year of its operation saw CFTO-TV Toronto with by far the lion's share of production - almost all of the prime-time, with the other stations adding only fringe-prime (before 8:00 pm) and daytime periods.
That brought up another problem, the financing of the network by the stations. Woods Gordon, financial consultants, were brought in to examine CTV's books and those of its stations. As a result, a new formula was approved, easing the load on the small ("have-not") market stations, and providing for increased contributions by the big ("have") stations.
At the same time, on every occasion before a CRTC hearing, whether it was a network or station licence renewal, the CRTC continued to berate both the network and the stations for the lack of "real" Canadian content in prime-time. They wanted DRAMA with a Canadian mosaic - not nameless cities that showed no car licence plates, used American money in close ups - all geared for sale in the U. S. The network pointed to their CTV News with Harvey Kirck and Public Affairs programs with shows such as "W5". But that was "never enough", and the debate continued through the 70s and 80s.
CBC affiliates continued serving the north from Timmins' CFCL-TV; Sault Ste. Marie's - CJIC-TV; North Bay's CHNB-TV; along with a new twin-stick operation in Sudbury - CKNC-TV.
CHFD-TV Thunder Bay was granted a twin-stick licence to bring CTV to the region.
CFQC-TV became a full-time CTV affiliate when the CBC established its own station CBKST-TV in Saskatoon.
At his first CTV Board meeting, Blair Nelson, who managed CFQC-TV for the family of founder A. A. "Pappy" Murphy, advised Baton's John Bassett that the family wanted out of the broadcasting business. Bassett made a deal to buy the station, and subsequently applied to the CRTC. Although there were some concerns that the Commission might not approve Baton owning two CTV stations, later, the transfer was approved.
Yorkton Television Ltd. applied for a licence to operate a CTV outlet in Yorkton, to serve the area with both CBC and CTV on a twin-stick basis. The new channel opened in the Fall.
CFCF-TV Montreal had been founded by the Canadian Marconi Company, which in turn was owned by a parent in England and had been operating under a special Order-in-Council allowing the station to be controlled by "foreign owners". A new Order-in-Council required Marconi to yield the controlling interest and find a new owner. This took several years. After attempts by Baton's CFTO and a suggestion by CJOH's Stu Griffiths that CTV buy the station, the problem was solved when the Bronfman family's Multiple Access, a computer and communications company with no broadcast experience, was given approval to purchase the station.
"Canada AM" debuted in September and became one of CTVs success stories.
Between 1972 and 1975, CTV News opened bureaus in Winnipeg and Edmonton to cover the prairies and the Yukon & North West Territories - and in Halifax to cover the Maritimes. This brought approval from the CRTC at the network's licence hearing as the CRTC had asked that more regional stories be included in the National News.
CTV experienced another "rough" CRTC licence renewal hearing; this time the Council of Canadian Filmmakers joined CRTCs' Dr. Pierre Camu and commissioners Roy Faibish and Jacques Hébert in admonishing CTV for its lack of Canadian drama.
The three-day hearing was filled with arguments from CTV station owners, with President Murray Chercover saying CTV could not do more.
In August, CRTC gave CTV an ultimatum, demanding stepped-up Canadian content in the 1980 - 81 season with a further increase for the rest of its five-year licence renewal. Furthermore, this increase would have to apply after 8:00 pm, and the Commission wanted more programming that would reflect the cultural life of Quebec to the rest of Canada, as well as more shows directed at children.
CTV and its owners were outraged, calling it censorship, and promised an appeal to the Supreme Court. As CTV prepared its appeal, there was a federal election, and the Conservatives came to power under Joe Clark. Dr. Camu resigned as Chairman of the CRTC, citing a job offer, and John Meisel, a professor of political science at Queens University, with no broadcasting background, was appointed Chairman. Policy did not change as a result.
CTV won a partial victory at court, but lost its appeal to the Supreme Court in a decision announced in April 1982. The CRTC decision of 1979 was totally restored.
In the meantime, CTV programming continued as before, and the CRTC decided not to enforce its 1979 ruling - instead handing out a short term renewal of two years instead of the regular 5-year term.
John Meisel returned to Queens University and André Bureau took over the Chair of CRTC.
Meanwhile, Standard Broadcasting was purchased by Allan Slaight who joined the CTV Board representing CJOH-TV.
A flurry of appeals and great debates in the CTV Board room delayed implementation of the purchase and the Government finally passed an Order-in-Council that required the CRTC to re-hear the applications.
Meeting casually in Toronto, George Eaton suggested to Allan Slaight that Baton might buy CJOH-TV. Shortly thereafter a deal was reached and the CRTC cancelled the re-hearing scheduled for August, and set a date for hearing the Baton application for early 1988.
CAP Communications, owner of CKCO-TV Kitchener, proposed to purchase Dick Rice's CFRN-TV Edmonton and that was also approved.
CTV was host broadcaster for the `88 Calgary Olympics which was a resounding success under the co-ordination of Phyllis Switzer.
In the fall, CTV's first truly Canadian drama series was launched. "E.N.G." revolving around a TV News Room in Toronto was a great hit even against very popular U. S. opposition. It ran in the 10:00 pm Thursday time slot for five years and contained all the missing factors that the CRTC had asked for over the years. The 89/90 season was one of CTV's best with other new shows such as "Bordertown", the afternoon show "Shirley" and returning shows "The Campbells", "Katts and Dog" and "My Secret Identity". All this was very expensive and it happened to coincide with Global starting to pay big money for U.S. programs. CFTO lost its "No. 1" position in the Toronto market, and that of course cost the network money.
Maclean Hunter purchased Selkirk Communications and the fall-out brought about changes in several markets across the country. The big upset was in B. C., where Frank Griffiths' Western International Communications took full control of BCTV (CHAN-TV) and Okanagan Television in Kelowna. They also picked up stations in Calgary, Lethbridge and Hamilton.
In the fall, Ray Peters stepped down as President and CEO of WIC (BCTV) and was replaced by Doug Holtby, head of Dr. Allard's Allarcom (CITV-TV Edmonton).
Just before Christmas, the CTV Board's search committee hired John Cassaday, formerly of Campbell's Soup and General Foods, to take on the Presidency of CTV replacing Murray Chercover.
Many of the old guard were gone.
Baton's Doug Bassett was on the move again, this time in Northern Ontario, where four "twin stick" operations in Sudbury, North Bay, Timmins and Sault Ste. Marie, operated under a company named Mid-Canada Television. Another hearing for the purchase of the group brought out the usual CRTC fears of Baton gradually getting control of CTV - but Bassett convinced them that the "one owner - one vote" rule still applied and since none of the other CTV owners were opposing the application - the CRTC approved the takeover.
After continual wrangling since day one, the station owners of CTV agreed to convert their debentures into equity - to dissolve the co-operative and become a corporation.
Baton would then sell 50% of CFCN and a half interest in six of its Saskatchewan stations to Electrohome. As well, BBS would trade 50% of CFPL-TV, CKNX-TV and CHWI-TV to Electrohome in exchange for 50% of Electrohome's CKCO-TV stations. A 50-50 joint venture company was formed. (approved by the CRTC in June of 1996)
On September 1st, Ivan Fecan became President of Baton Broadcasting, and CEO in December.
Baton received CRTC approval for three Specialty Channels, "The Comedy Network", "Outdoor Life" and "Talk TV".
On February 25, Baton and CHUM Ltd., announced a deal involving the swapping of some TV stations, that when approved would give Baton control of CTV. CHUM's CITY-TV gained a valuable Southern Ontario sales package.
Baton took over CHUM's 14.3% interest in CTV along with ATV, the Atlantic Television Network (CJCH-TV Halifax, CJCB-TV Sydney, CKCW-TV Moncton / Charlottetown and CKLT-TV Saint John/Fredericton). ATV was a CTV affiliate. Baton also took over CHUM's Atlantic Satellite Network. After approval, Baton had 57% of CTV. The next largest shareholder was Western International Communications with 28.6%.
To go along with CITY-TV in Toronto, CHUM took over CFPL-TV London, CKNX-TV Wingham, CHWI-TV Wheatley and CHRO-TV Pembroke/Ottawa.
In June, John Cassaday resigned as President of CTV to become President of Shaw Communications"
Le Groupe Videotron Ltée." of Montreal (TVA French Network and a major cable TV company), received CRTC approval to purchase CFCF-TV and its cable subsidiary, providing it subsequently sold CFCF-TV.
On August 22, the CRTC approved the sale by Le Groupe Vidéotron Ltée of CF-12 Inc., (CFCF-TV) to WIC Television Ltd. (70%), and Capital Communications CDPQ inc. (30%). Vidéotron retained CFCFs cable system.
In August, the CRTC gave approval to the Baton/CHUM exchange of stations which put Baton in control of the CTV Network. Outstanding network shares were still held by WIC (BCTV) Vancouver and Moffat, CKY-TV Winnipeg, both whom after some negotiation sold their shares in the CTV network to Baton. That left Newfoundland Broadcasting's CJON-TV, the only hold-out, finally giving-in late in the year just before Baton's annual meeting.
"Big John" Bassett, Founder of CFTO-TV, died on April 13th, after a short illness.
On December 8th, at the Baton Annual Meeting, the name of the company was changed to "CTV Inc." and the company shares were listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
In a surprise move, late in February, BCE (Canada's telephone giant) through its subsidiary BCE Media, proposed to purchase CTV Inc. for $ 2.3 billion, the largest transaction in Canadian broadcasting.
Later in March the CTV board approved the deal, which required CRTC approval. In June BCE submitted their brief to the CRTC with the largest "benefits package" ever presented to the regulative body. The benefits, money allocated over the proposed seven year licence term, were almost entirely to be spent on new Canadian programming. Ivan Fecan agreed to stay with the network under BCE ownership. The CRTC hearing was held in September, and on December 7 the Commission approved the change of ownership to BCE Media Inc.
In August the CRTC approved CTV’s acquisition of ownership of CKY-TV Winnipeg, and gave 7-year licence renewals to all the CTV-owned affiliate stations. In September the Commission approved CTV’s purchase of CFCF-TV Montreal.
Trina McQueen became President & CEO of the CTV Television Network in January; in November, she announced her resignation, which took effect on January 7th 2002.
Starting in October, all CTV-owned-and-operated stations ceased using their local callsigns and began identifying themselves as just CTV.
In an unrelated move, on July 21 the CRTC approved an application for ownership restructuring by Bell Globemedia (BGM), parent company of CTV, stemming from a deal in December 2005 that saw two new investors added to the company. Thomson family's Woodbridge Co. Ltd. increased its stake in BGM to 40 per cent from 31.5 per cent, while BCE Inc. reduced its holding to 20 per cent from 68.5 per cent. Two other investors were added to the deal, including Torstar Corp. and Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, each with 20 per cent.
On December 12th, it was announced that Bell Globemedia would henceforth be known as CTVglobemedia.
Book - "CTV - The Television Wars" by Susan Gittins.
Compiled by Ross McCreath, Updated by Pip Wedge - June, 2007