"Sexy, stylish and spectacular", as it described itself, FT-Fashion Television began in 1985 and quickly built a strong audience base. Its host and segment producer, Jeanne Beker, had made a name for herself covering the rock scene for CITY-TV's The NewMusic, and was ready for a change of scene. Jeanne took to her new role right from the start, and as the years rolled on, she established herself as a star in her own right.
Each program dealt with the latest in fashions, the designers who created the season's collections and the models that wore them on the world's runways. A key element in the series' success was the use of lively, current music selections to back each segment, each clip chosen both for its tone-setting sound and for the aptness of the lyrics and the mood.
The first Fashion Television programs in 1985 were one-hour specials, but the potential for a series was quickly recognized, and the fall September 1986 CITY-TV schedule introduced the FT half-hour series on Saturdays at 6:30pm, with a Sunday repeat at the same time. The series later spawned its own Fashion Television digital cable channel. In 2004, the newsstands saw the arrival of a big glossy FT magazine, edited by Jeanne Beker.
FT coverage of fashion shows over the years inevitably included shots of scantily or undraped female forms, as designers got more and more daring in their creations. This coverage inevitably prompted complaints to the CRTC from some viewers, objecting to such things as 'the display of body parts' and suggesting that the series as a whole promoted 'a way of thinking that is detrimental to women and to society'. Such complaints were invariably referred to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, who were consistent in taking a position that in their view the program did not 'present a negative or degrading portrayal of women', and that the program did not breach the Sex-Role Portrayal Code for Television and Radio Programming.
While FT created a world appetite for television fashion programs - it was syndicated in over seventy countries -and inspired others to try to imitate its style and content, in November 2005 it celebrated its 20th anniversary as the justly-acclaimed queen of the fashion programs, with over 780 episodes and more than 2000 story segments.
CTV's parent company CTVglobemedia bought out CHUM in June 2007. CITY-TV, which had remained the nominal producer of the show throughout its history, was sold to Rogers Communications; however, because CTVglobemedia kept the spinoff channel, it was also entitled to the rights to the show itself. FT's terrestrial broadcasts moved from Citytv to the CTV network in January 2008.
In September 2010, CTV broadcast a Fashion Television special to mark the series' 25th Aniversary. By then, the series was being seen in 140 countries, with Jeanne Beker still at the helm.
On Wednesday April 11th 2012 Bell Media, owners of CTV, announced that the Fashion Television series had ceased production, and no further orirignal episodes would be produced.
Scott Henderson, vice-president of communications, stated: "Production on Fashion Television has been suspended. The company thanks founding producer Jay Levine for his dedication to the series for more than two decades and wishes him well in his future endeavours. The series remains on the air. The iconic Jeanne Beker remains with Bell Media and the company looks forward to an exciting future with her, including the development of new projects. Bell Media remains committed to the fashion genre and will continue to grow Fashion Television Channel to deliver a broader appeal for viewers, advertisers, and distributors."
Written by Pip Wedge - March, 2005