Murray Chercover (1929-2010)
Pioneer - Member of CAB Hall of Fame
Chercover, Murray (1929-2010)
Born in Montreal in August 1929, Murray Chercover was raised and educated in Port Arthur, Ontario, in Toronto at Lorne Greene’s Academy of Radio and Television Arts, and in New York at the Neighbourhood Playhouse Theatre School. His route to the Presidency of Canada's first privately-owned television network had begun in 1944 at radio station CFPA in Port Arthur, when he was only fifteen; he developed an early love for the theatre, and after spending time with Dora Mavor Moore’s New Play Society and Jupiter Theatre in Toronto in 1946-48, while working in radio, he went to New York.
There, in addition to working as Executive Director of the Equity Library Theatre, he produced and directed plays with the Long Island Tent Theatre, the Circle Theatre of Atlantic City, and in Kennebunkport, Maine. He also directed television drama for the first time with the DuMont Network’s Cosmopolitan Theatre, for the Louis G. Cowan agency.
He returned to Canada in 1952 to join newly-formed CBC Television as a producer and director, and his credits there included dramas for General Motors Presents, Procter & Gamble’s On Camera, The Ford Motor Company’s Playbill, and Space Command. In 1960, he left the CBC to join Baton Broadcasting’s newly licensed private station, CFTO-TV, as Executive Producer for all production. He became Director of Programming for CFTO in 1961, and later the same year he was appointed Vice-President of Programming for the station.
In this capacity he chaired I.T.O. (the Independent Television Organization), which the new private stations had formed to facilitate joint program production and acquisition.When the CTV Network was formed in 1961, he chaired its Program Committee. When the CTV affiliates acquired ownership of the Network in 1966, Murray was appointed Executive Vice President and General Manager of CTV, and in 1967 became its President and Chief Operating Officer. In 1969 he became President and Managing Director, and was made President and CEO in 1986. He retired from the Network in 1990 but continued for a time as a Special Consultant to CTV, while setting up his own Chercover Communications to develop and produce independent programming and to offer consultancy services.
During his 24-year tenure at CTV, the Network’s program service grew to 65 hours per week, with a strong mix of Canadian and foreign program content. Under his leadership, the Network launched its News and Public Affairs programming with the CTV National News, Canada AM, W5 and Question Period. The establishment of news bureaus in New York, Rome, London, Washington and other world capitals further enhanced the production values and impact of CTV’s information programming.
CTV also invested successfully in major co-productions with U.S. and British producers, which qualified as Canadian content while being strong enough for U.S. syndication, and Murray took the network from a black and white signal to colour and later from a cumbersome microwave delivery system to a satellite service which better served the affiliates and their viewers across the country. Apart from his unique skills as a programmer, during his presidency Murray demonstrated a remarkable talent as a diplomat, dealing with considerable success with the varying and often conflicting demands and expectations of his affiliate owners.
As well, these skills served him well as he spearheaded the Network’s relationships with first the Board of Broadcast Governors and later with the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission, as CTV addressed both its requirements under the Broadcast Act and the demands of CTV’s various CRTC Licence Renewal decisions over the years.
Personal honours during his career included the CAB Distinguished Service Gold Ribbon (1986), the CFTA Gold Medal for Lifetime Achievement in 1988, a Special Citation in 1989 for his contributions to high quality programming around the world from the International Council of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (now the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences), a “Rockie” Lifetime Achievement Award from the Banff Television Festival and the Conestoga College Award for Excellence in Broadcasting in 1990, and the Broadcast Executives Society's "Achiever" Award (1991).
He served on many Boards of Directors, including those of the Children’s Broadcast Institute, the Banff Television Festival, the Prix Italia General Assembly, the Roland Michener Foundation and the International Council of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Murray Chercover was named to the CAB Broadcast Hall of Fame in 1994.
Murray Chercover died on July 3rd 2010 from complications following pneumonia. He was 80.
Written by Pip Wedge - April, 2007