History of the TVA Network

1960
On March 22, Joseph Alexandre DeSève received an operating licence from the Board of Broadcast Governors (BBG), which would later become the Canadian Radio-Television and Commission (CRTC), for the first private television station in Montreal, Télé-Métropole (CFTM-TV).

1961
On February 19, less than a year after having received its licence, the television station Télé-Métropole (CFTM-TV) began its operations. The inaugural evening featured a pre-eminent gala program called “Du Neuf au Dix!

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.

1965
A separate production company was established - JPL Production Inc. - under the direction of Jean-Paul Ladouceur.

1966
CFMT-TV broadcast its first TV program in colour (Tele-Métro).

1968
J.-A. DeSève the founder of Télé-Métropole/TVA, born in 1898, died.

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.

1971
Creation of the private TVA network. On September 12, the stations CFTM Montréal, CFCM-TV Québec and CJPM-TV Chicoutimi, began simultaneously broadcasting a certain number of their programs.

TVA began to produce all its programs in colour.

1972
Inauguration of the TVA network news service.

1973
CHLT-TV Sherbrooke was added to the TVA network.

1974
A new addition to the TVA network: CFVO-TV Hull/Ottawa, which later became CHOT-TV, when the station was bought by Radio-Nord in 1978.

Télé-Métropole/TVA was listed on the Montreal Stock Exchange.

A major expansion of the station was begun.

1975
The construction of the new 11-storey building was completed and housed the offices of the station and Network, as well as three (3) studios, and was located at 1600 de Maisonneuve Blvd. East.

1976
CHEM-TV Trois-Rivières became a TVA network affiliate.

TVA broadcast the XIIth Winter Olympic Games live from Innsbruck, Austria.

1977
TVA opened six new recording studios D, D-1, E, F, G and H (respectively 3,220, 2,250, 2,900, 8,060, 11,020 and 4,630 square feet). All studios were designed to accommodate audiences ranging from 200 to 600 people.

TVA bought Sonolab, one of the leading providers of film production services in the Province of Quebec.

1978
TVA embarked upon its first endeavour in the international co-production market through its subsidiary JPL Production. With France and Germany, TVA played a key role in the production of two major ballets: Coppelia and The Nutcracker.

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.

1980
TVA’s new Studio L came on stream.

Broadcast of a first telethon from the studio L, lasting 20 hours, of which 10 hours were broadcast over the entire TVA network.

1981
During Télé-Métropole’s 20th anniversary celebrations, a special variety show, Le Gala ans, 20 coeurs, hosted by Dominique Michel and Michel Jasmin was aired.

1982
CRTC approved a restructuring of TVA whereby its Board of Directors, where each of the shareholders held voting rights was the governing body. The shareholders were: Télé-Métropole Inc., Pathonic Communications Inc., Télé Inter Rives ltée, Radio Nord inc. and Télévision de la Baie des Chaleurs Inc.

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.

1983
The news and public affairs service entered into the electronic era. Yesterday’s TV cameras and 16 mm film made way for lightweight ¾" video cameras that would pave the way for electronic newsgathering.

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).

1984
With the purchase of several Betacam camera units, Télé-Métropole entered into the ½" videotape era.

TVA broadcast the Sarajevo Winter Olympic Games in association with CTV, and the opening and closing ceremonies of the Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games.

1985
The CRTC renewed the broadcasting licence for the TVA network for a five-year term.

1986
On April 18, the CRTC denied the applications to transfer control of Télé-Métropole to Power Corporation of Canada.

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.

1987
On January 27, the CRTC approved the acquisition of Télé-Métropole inc., this time by the Groupe Vidéotron ltée. The total cost of the transaction was $134.1 million, which represented 40.7% of its share capital and 99.6% of the voting rights.

1988
The computerization of TVA’s newsroom was launched along with the construction of large newsroom set (Studio N) with independent master and production controls.

TVA broadcast of the Calgary Winter Olympic Games in association with CTV.

1989
Launch of interactive television, a technology developed by the Groupe Vidéotron.

1990
On July 9, after public hearings that had begun on April 24 of the same year, the CRTC approved the applications seeking authorization to transfer the working control over Réseau Pathonic inc., the licensee for CFCM-TV and CKMI-TV Québec, CFER-TV Rimouski, CFER-TV-2 Gaspé-Nord and of the Pathonic network, as well as its wholly-owned subsidiary, Pathonic Communications inc., the licensee for CHLT-TV Sherbrooke and CHEM-TV Trois-Rivières, by means of a transfer to Télé-Métropole inc. of all the Class "B" multiple voting shares outstanding, held by Les Placements Pathonic inc. Subsequent to this transaction, Télé-Métropole then held all the outstanding Class “A” and Class “B” shares of Pathonic, which represented 100% of the voting rights. The value of the transaction came to $12 million.

1992
On August 13, the CRTC approved the application seeking authorization to transfer 75% of the voting shares outstanding of Réseau de télévision TVA inc., which were held equally by Radio Nord Inc., Télé-Inter Rives ltée and Télévision de la Baie des Chaleurs inc., to Télé-Métropole inc, who thereby became sole owners of the Network, and the stations became simple affiliates.

TVA broadcast of the Lillehammer Winter Olympic Games and the Barcelona Summer Olympic Games in association with CTV.

1993
Acquisition of a satellite truck, which made it easier to instantaneously broadcast news reports directly from the site of an event.

1994
Acquisition of two microwave trucks. Modernization of the production equipment.

1995
After benefiting from a major facelift that had required an investment of half-million dollars, TVA inaugurated the Théâtre Arcade which then became Studio A with the capacity to accommodate an audience of 500 people. TVA is the largest private-sector producer and broadcaster of French language entertainment, news and public affairs programming in North America.

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.

1997
TVA scored its best audience ratings going back over the previous ten years.

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.

1998
On October 29, the CRTC gave its approval to the extension of the TVA French language television service right across Canada via cable.

Partnership agreement made between the M6 TV station in Paris and Groupe TVA.

1999
In January 1999, the star TVA program host Gaétan Girouard committed suicide. Gaétan Girouard, who was then living in Quebec City, co-hosted the daily noontime public affairs program J.E. en direct along with Jocelyne Cazin.

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.

2001
On July 5, the CRTC approved the transfer of control over Groupe TVA to Quebecor Média inc. and it renewed TVA’s licence for a seven-year term. This transaction was however subject to the sale of the Quatre-Saisons network to a third party, a sale that would eventually be concluded with Cogeco and Bell Globemedia. The transaction was approved by the CRTC on December 7 of the same year. TVA then became one of the biggest private French language entertainment, news and public affairs program production and broadcasting companies in North America.

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.

2003
Amongst the top 50 television programs that were most popular with Quebec TV audiences in 2003, 40 of them were being broadcast by TVA.

2004
In 2004, the TVA Network became Groupe TVA Inc., a diversified communications company active in three industry sectors: television, publishing and distribution. This orientation was closely linked to the “convergence” phenomenon, well illustrated by all the various concerns that were owned by Groupe TVA's majority shareholder, Quebecor, which also owned the cable TV company Videotron, several magazines, and a group of newspapers, including the Journal de Montréal and the Journal de Québec.

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%.

2005
The Argent channel was officially launched on February 21, 2005. The Argent channel was a speciality channel that covered economic and business news, as well as personal finances. Fed by the TVA newsroom team and taking advantage of the network's presence in every region across the Province of Quebec, Argent also relied upon several well-known collaborators to explain and put into perspective economic issues and news.

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.

2006
The digital speciality channel Prise 2 was launched on February 9, 2006. With the slogan “TV that people still like”, this new French language channel aired TV and film classics, both from Quebec and the USA, as well as films presented under a variety of themes.

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.

2007
On February 1, 2007, TVA launched a simultaneous high definition broadcast of its Montreal CFTM station's offerings, which was only available via satellite or digital cable.

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.

2008
On February 19, 2008, after having received a licence on October 21, 2005 for a channel that was then to be called Télé-Services, TVA launched this speciality channel under a new name Les idées de ma maison, a reference to a magazine of the same name, published by TVA Publications. This channel was dedicated to everything concerning the home, including home decorating, renovations, real estate, kitchens and gardening. The channel was renamed CASA on October 18, 2010 and launched in high definition on December 14, 2011.

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.

2009
On February 25, 2009, Groupe TVA announced the signing of a collective agreement with Union des artists (UDA) that stipulated the working conditions for the artist-freelancers who participated in the programs that it produced. The three-year agreement was the first one to precisely define how the content delivered over all the new media, such as video-on-demand, broadcasting over the Internet or mobile phones, could be used.

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.

2010
On February 26, 2010, Groupe TVA got the green light from the CRTC to launch a TV channel to compete with RDS: TVA Sports. However, the Commission refused to annul the contract that gave RDS exclusive rights to cover the Montreal Canadiens. The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission explained that it had not been convinced on the merits of intervening in an existing private contractual relationship.

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.

2011
On January 26, 2011, the CRTC ruled that TVA would have to make its programs available to Bell and Telus' video-on-demand (VOD) services. The Commission ruled that TVA had been giving unwarranted preference to Videotron - which also belonged to Quebecor - by granting exclusive distribution rights to its VOD service, Illico. This decision came as a result of complaints made by Telus and Bell in June 2010.

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
Updated February, 2012

Sources:

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/