History of the TVA Network
The official launch was attended by the Archbishop of Montreal, Mgr. Paul-Émile Léger, Mayor Jean Drapeau, and Premier Jean Lesage, who declared that television had “enormous power and thus, enormous responsibilities -- we are confident that Télé-Métropole will serve the interests of French Canada.”
Amongst the programs that were broadcast during its first day on the air, one may note “Poivre et Sel”, at 16:30, and “Je me souviens”, at 19:30. CFMT-TV was the biggest private French language television station operating in the Province of Quebec with a signal covering over a 100-kilometre radius around Montreal.
The municipal government of the City of Montreal decided to change the name of the street alongside the Télé-Métropole building to Alexandre-DeSève Street, in memory of the TVA founder.
TVA began to produce all its programs in colour.
Télé-Métropole/TVA was listed on the Montreal Stock Exchange.
A major expansion of the station was begun.
TVA broadcast the XIIth Winter Olympic Games live from Innsbruck, Austria.
TVA bought Sonolab, one of the leading providers of film production services in the Province of Quebec.
CFER-TV Rimouski/Sept-Îles, CFEM-TV Rouyn-Noranda and CIMT-TV Rivière-du-Loup joined the TVA network, bringing the total to nine TV stations affiliated to the network.
Broadcast of a first telethon from the studio L, lasting 20 hours, of which 10 hours were broadcast over the entire TVA network.
Like CTV, TVA at this time was solely a broadcasting network, and did not have a production infrastructure, nor any production equipment. Accordingly, all the network’s programs, which generally represented less than 10 hours per week, were commissioned to be produced by one or the other of its affiliated stations. Meanwhile, parent station CFTM-TV Montréal was the primary originating source of 80% to 90% of the entire Canadian and foreign programming schedule for these stations.
In December, CHAU-TV Carleton, became the tenth and last station to affiliate to the TVA network.
With the addition of CHAU-TV, the TVA television network was now made up of the stations CFTM-TV Montréal, CFCM-TV Québec, CFER-TV Rimouski, CFER-TV-2 Gaspé Nord, CJPM-TV Chicoutimi, CJPM-TV-1 Chambord, CHLT-TV Sherbrooke, CHEM-TV Trois-Rivières, CIMT-TV Rivière-du-Loup, CIMT-TV-1 Edmundston (New Brunswick), CIMT-TV-2 Trois-Pistoles, CIMT-TV-4 Baie Saint-Paul, CHOT-TV Hull/Ottawa, CFEM-TV Rouyn/Noranda, CFEM-TV-1 Val d’Or, CHAU-TV Carleton and its satellite stations in Sainte-Marguerite-Marie, Port-Daniel, Chandler, Percé, Gaspé, Rivière-au-Renard, Cloridorme, L’Anse-à-Valleau, Murdochville and Saint-Quentin and Kedgwick (New Brunswick).
TVA broadcast the Sarajevo Winter Olympic Games in association with CTV, and the opening and closing ceremonies of the Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games.
Télé-Métropole was at that time the licensee for CFTM-TV Montréal, the sole owner of CJPM-TV inc., the licensee for CJPM-TV Chicoutimi and CJPM TV 1 Chambord, in addition to having a minority interest (33.5%) in Pathonic Communications inc., which had a controlling interest in Télé-Capitale inc., the licensee for CFCM-TV Québec, CFER-TV Rimouski and for its satellite station in Sept-Îles, in addition to having a minority interest (34%) in Télé-Inter Rives ltée, a licensee for CIMT-TV Rivière-du-Loup.
Télé-Métropole’s presence across the Province was not only corporate in scope, but above all characterized by the reach of the programming produced by its CFTM-TV Montréal station. In addition to its contribution to the TVA network, for which it produced the greater part of the network’s programs and in which it held 16.6% of the shares, it made its productions available to the other ten stations belonging to the TVA network.
CFTM-TV programs were also made available to TV broadcasting companies across the country via the TCTV signal beamed via satellite by Canadian Satellite Communications Inc. (CANCOM).
Meanwhile, Télé-Métropole’s financial situation was excellent. Net profit had fluctuated between $13.7 and $16.1 million between 1981 and 1985. In 1985, it was $15.4 million on total net revenues of $97.8 million.
TVA broadcast of the Calgary Winter Olympic Games in association with CTV.
TVA broadcast of the Lillehammer Winter Olympic Games and the Barcelona Summer Olympic Games in association with CTV.
Every year, TVA presented approximately 2 000 hours of original locally produced programming in drama, variety and general entertainment plus approximately 1 200 hours of news and public affairs. TVA led all other private Canadian broadcasters, whether operating in English or in French, in the broadcast of original Canadian programming in all categories.
On February 27, the CRTC approved the application from Vidéotron ltée, the parent company of the TVA network, to acquire CF Cable TV inc. and its subsidiaries, provided however that Vidéotron would agree to sell the Télévision Quatre-Saisons network and the English language station CFCF-TV Montreal to a third party. CF Cable TV inc. was at that time the licensee for CFCF-TV and for the French language television stations CFJP-TV Montréal, CFAP-TV Québec and CJPC-TV Rimouski, as well as the licensee for the Télévision Quatre-Saisons network.
Partnership agreement made between the M6 TV station in Paris and Groupe TVA.
TVA marked the arrival of the new millennium in a spectacular fashion by airing a live broadcast of the Céline Dion mega show, performed on December 31 at the Centre Molson in Montreal.
A strategic alliance was developed between TVA and the Cirque du Soleil vis-à-vis television production.
TVA was thus the owner of six of the ten stations that made up the TVA network, namely: CFTM-TV (Montréal), CFCM-TV (Québec), CFER-TV (Rimouski), CHLT-TV (Sherbrooke), CHEM-TV (Trois-Rivières) and CJPM-TV (Chicoutimi). The four other stations affiliated to the TVA network are: CFEM-TV (Rouyn), CHOT-TV (Hull), CHAU-TV (Carleton) and CIMT-TV (Rivière-du-Loup). These last two stations were owned by Télé Inter-Rives ltée, in which TVA had a 45% interest. The Corporation also had an interest in CKMI-TV (49% with no working control or influence), a station that is affiliated to the Global Television Network. The TVA network signal reached virtually the entire francophone viewing audience in the Province of Quebec and a significant segment of the francophone population in the rest of Canada. Meanwhile, TVA held an interest in certain analog specialty services, such as Le Canal Nouvelles (LCN) (100%) and Canal Évasion (10%), in Category 1 and 2 digital specialty services (five English language and five French language), as well as in the pay-per-view television service Canal Indigo (20%).
In September, Sophie Thibault became the first female news anchor on a nightly newscast on a French language network in the Province of Quebec.
In 2004, in addition to operating the general-interest French language television network TVA, Groupe TVA also had 3 speciality channels, namely LCN (Le Canal de Nouvelles), Mystère, and a teleshopping channel Shopping TV (STV), launched in 2003. Groupe TVA also had interests in two English language speciality channels in partnership with CanWest Global: Mystery (51%) and Mentv (51%), in addition to interests in Canal Indigo (20%) and Canal Évasion (8%).
In 2004, TVA delivered an exceptional performance, placing 25 of its programs in the cream of the crop, namely, the 30 most popular programs according to the BBM's Top 30 Programs list.
The launch of the Mystère channel took place on October 21, 2004. A licence application for a new digital speciality channel, 45.5% owned by Groupe TVA, 45.5% by Global Television Network and 9% by Rogers had been submitted to the CRTC and approved in the fall of 2000. In view of the low penetration rate of digital TV in the Province of Quebec, the channel's launch was postponed. On October 13, 2008, Groupe TVA once again launched Mystère, but in high definition this time around. After modifying the categories that the channel was authorized to broadcast under the CRTC's licence requirements, in the summer 2009, Mystère changed its name to become AddikTV, on August 23, 2010.
Groupe TVA's parent company acquired the station Toronto One, on December 2, 2004, in partnership with its parent Corporation, Sun Media. It should be recalled that Craig Media had received a broadcasting licence from the CRTC, on April 8, 2002, to launch Toronto One, that was to serve Toronto and Hamilton. Toronto One (CKXT) went on the air on September 19, 2003. Unfortunately, the station was a financial disaster for Craig. CHUM Ltd., which then acquired Craig Media, agreed to sell CKXT to Quebecor Media and Sun Media (a subsidiary of Quebecor Media). Numerous programming changes were then made and the station's name became Sun TV, on August 29, 2005. On December 1, 2009, as part of an intra-corporate restructuring, Groupe TVA acquired shares in Sun Media. Finally, Sun TV's land-based antennas were closed down and thus was born Sun News Network on April 18, 2011, as Groupe TVA had then received a category 2 licence from the CRTC for a 24-hour-a-day news channel.
At the end of 2004, TVA's operating revenue had reached a new summit of $357,960,000, an increase of 5% over the previous fiscal year. This growth came essentially from the TV sector that had reported, for that year, an increase in its operating revenue of more than 10%.
On October 21, 2005, the CRTC accepted Groupe TVA's applications to create four new digital channels, namely, Prise 2, Télé-Services, Humour and Tapis Rouge.
In 2005, TVA became the only TV news network in the Province of Quebec to have a helicopter expressly dedicated to covering newsworthy events in the Montreal region and elsewhere in the Province of Quebec.
As of September 2006, the TVA network became the first of the three French language Quebec networks to broadcast daily and live several TV programs over the Internet. Only in-house programs could be broadcast over the Internet, due to copyright restrictions on other programs. TVA was thus following in the footsteps of the major American networks CBS, NBC and ABC.
On November 27, 2007, Groupe TVA abolished 15 full-time positions in Quebec City due to a reduction in local production. However, the company also created four full-time positions and 10 part-time positions, which required more versatility on the part of these employees.
Groupe TVA acquired the French language pay-per-view TV channel Canal Indigo on March 20, 2008. This channel was created on August 26, 1996 and offered pay-per-view content that enabled the viewer to watch films and shows, as well as sporting events. At the time it was launched, the channel was 40% owned by Astral Media, through Viewers Choice Canada, 20% by Groupe TVA, 20% by TQS inc., and 20% by Cogeco Radio Télévision Inc. Then, on December 1st 2009, Videotron became the new owner in a intra-corporate restructuring of Quebecor Media Inc.
At 7:40 am, on December 16, 2009, the TVA helicopter crashed in Montreal, alongside the Bonaventure expressway, right in front of Mel's studios. The pilot Antoine Léger and the journalist Rejean Léveillé, who were in the helicopter, suffered multiple orthopaedic injuries, but did eventually recover from the accident. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) deemed that the TVA helicopter crash had been caused by a mechanical failure.
In February 2010, TVA was also granted another licence by the CRTC to operate another French language category 2 pay TV service intended solely for 2-6 year old children, namely, TVA Junior, whose projected launch date was scheduled for April 1, 2010.
On February 25, 2010, Groupe TVA announced the launch of new multi-platform brand intended for 2-6 year old children and their parents: Yoopa. Yoopa would take several forms: a speciality TV channel, a magazine and a Web portal. Groupe TVA was thus targeting a pre-school audience segment, a niche that it thought had been abandoned in favour of older youth segments. The TV channel went on the air on April 1, 2010.
On October 18, 2010, the CRTC gave the green light to the launch of the speciality channels TVA Mode and Star Système (originally Tapis Rouge). These Groupe TVA channels were granted a type 2 licence. This meant that they were not peremptorily offered by the cable TV service providers. TVA Mode would be devoted to fashion, beauty and well being. Meanwhile, the Star Système channel would focus on news in the artistic world, the entertainment industry and humour. TVA was given a 36-month time frame to launch these two new channels.
The channel originally called Mystère was renamed AddikTV, on August 23, 2010.
For the fiscal year ending on December 31, 2010, the Groupe TVA's consolidated operating revenue totalled $448.2 million, compared to $439 million for the previous year, 2009, representing an increase of 2.1%. For this same period, the net profit of Groupe TVA was $38.2 million, compared to $49.1 million for the 2009 fiscal year.
On February 24, 2011, TVA celebrated its 50th year on the air. On the February 24 edition of Fidèles au poste, TVA's 50 years were celebrated with the participation of several personalities. This two-hour special program featured numerous artists from several generations who had marked the history of the television channel.
On May 2, 2011, TVA launched the speciality channel Mlle, intended for 35-45 year old women. Mlle's offerings were geared towards lifestyle and entertainment programming. The channel was originally supposed to be called TVA Mode.
Groupe TVA's Montreal, Sherbrooke, Saguenay, Trois-Rivières, Rouyn-Noranda, Gatineau and Rivière-du-Loup TV stations made the transition to land-based digital transmission on September 1, 2011 at midnight.
On September 12, 2011, TVA Sports was launched. The channel had previously signed several agreements with various sporting teams, including the broadcast of 25 Ottawa Senators hockey games during the 2011-2012 season. TVA Sports also became the official broadcaster of the Toronto Blue Jays. On Tuesday, December 20, 2011, TVA announced that it would start broadcasting NBA games on December 25, 2011, thus marking the NBA's return to Quebec television screens.
On November 22, 2011, an agreement was entered into between Groupe TVA and Bell regarding the distribution of four speciality channels, namely, TVA Sports, Sun News, Yoopa and Mlle. The four Groupe TVA channels were to be offered to the company's customers, as of December 15, 2011. Thanks to this new agreement, all Groupe TVA channels were now available to Bell subscribers.
On December 8, 2011, Groupe TVA announced an agreement under which it would sell its 50% interest in the Mystery TV speciality channel, as well as its 51% interest in The Cave (formerly MenTV) channel, to Shaw Media.
Written by Yvon Chouinard – 2004
Web Sites: TVA, CRTC, Arts and Sciences Faculty at the Université de Sherbrooke, http://www.emissions.ca, and the “Souvenirs Télé” Web site hosted by Normand Daoust at: http://pages.infinit.net/souvenir/