Ivan Fecan (1953-)

Ivan Fecan

Year Born: 1953

Fecan, Ivan (1953- )

A Harbord Collegiate student who in the mid-1960s was the Student Rep for After Four, Toronto station CFTO-TV’s Saturday afternoon program series, would eventually join station owners Baton Broadcasting in 1994 as their Senior Group Vice-President, and would later become President of the CTV Network.

Born in Toronto in 1953, Ivan Fecan got his first job in broadcasting while still in high school, when he had a summer job at Johnny Lombardi’s CHIN radio.  He later produced filmed commercials for CKBI-TV in Prince Albert, before entering the Fine Arts program at York University, but dropped out before doing his fourth year in order to work for CBC radio (he was later given his degree, having completed the necessary credits for what later became a three-year degree course).  At first he freelanced for the CBC as a producer of documentaries, before becoming a full-time public affairs staffer and the first producer of Quirks and Quarks. He later worked as a producer on Sunday Morning, a three-hour magazine program.

When CITY-TV revamped its news programming in 1976, after the station was acquired by Multiple Access, Moses Znaimer hired Ivan first as a producer and then as News Director, where he developed CityPulse News and started a new trend in urban news reporting.

But by 1980 he was back at the CBC, this time in television at CBLT-TV Toronto, where he worked first in news (1980-82) and then as Director of Program Development and Head of Arts and Entertainment Programming (1982-85).  In this latter capacity, while on a visit to Los Angeles, Ivan met Brandon Tartikoff, NBC programming whiz, and so impressed the U.S. network head that, in mid-1985, Ivan was offered the post of Vice-President, Creative Affairs, at NBC.  His role there was primarily to act as Tartikoff’ s ‘fixer’, turning up in the studios whenever there was a problem that needed handling, and making peace among creative personnel and talent involved in various series and specials.

In 1987, CBC English language network TV head Denis Harvey lured Ivan back to Canada to become the Corporation’s Director of TV Entertainment Programming. In 1991 he became Vice-President, Arts and Entertainment, Television, and in 1993 he was appointed the CBC’s Vice-President of English Language Television. By the time he resigned from the Corporation in November 1994, Ivan had made a major creative mark on the CBC’s Canadian programming output, having been instrumental in varying degrees in the introduction and success of many series and television movies, including Road to Avonlea, Kids in the Hall, CODCO, North of  60, Street Legal, The Boys of St Vincent, Conspiracy of Silence, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, and the television incarnation of Royal Canadian Air Farce.

Within twenty-four hours of the announcement of his resignation from the CBC, Ivan received a call from Baton President Douglas Bassett, and the ensuing meeting resulted in Ivan joining Baton as Senior Group Vice-President, Broadcasting, before the year ended. In January 1995, he became Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, and then President of Baton on September 1st 1996, and CEO in December of that year.

In the ensuing four years, Ivan spearheaded a multiple strategy that resulted in Baton securing control of CTV. First there was the acquisition of CTV Calgary affiliate CFCN-TV from Rogers in 1996; then Baton formed a strategic alliance with Electrohome, owners of CKCO-TV Kitchener, which had some years earlier acquired CFRN-TV Edmonton. The alliance then applied for and was granted approval for the much-coveted license for a new Vancouver station, CIVT; this would in 2001 become the local CTV affiliate, when BCTV became part of the Global station line-up.
Baton had by then merged with Electrohome, which gave Baton close to 43% of CTV’s shares.  Finally, Ivan negotiated the deal that exchanged several Baton-owned TV stations in Ontario for CHUM’s ATV system in the Maritimes, which effectively gave Baton its long-sought control of the CTV Network. Baton became CTV Inc. on December 18th 1998, with Ivan as its President.

There followed a period of acquisitions – including Netstar, TSN, RDS, and the Discovery Channel. Then, early in 2000, it was reported that BCE Inc were making an offer to purchase CTV Inc., and a CRTC hearing was held in September. On December 7th 2000 the CRTC approved the acquisition of CTV Inc by BCE Inc.  CTV became a division of BCE subsidiary Bell Globemedia, and Ivan became President and CEO of that company, while remaining CEO of CTV Inc.

CTV then moved into a consolidation mode, as the now-powerful organization stabilized and introduced the efficiencies in corporate management which were now essential to maximize the profit potential which had motivated the previous years’ bursts of feverish activity.  Then in February of 2005, came the crowning moment when the CTV team, led by Ivan, allied itself with Rogers to acquire the Canadian broadcast rights to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and the 2012 London Summer Olympics.

Despite his many responsibilities, Ivan found the time to serve on the boards of the Wellesley Hospital, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, the Hospital for Sick Children Foundation, the York University Foundation, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.  In addition to his B.A. of Fine Arts from York University, he holds an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from Ryerson University.

 On September 10th 2010, the same day that Bell announced their intention to acquire 100% ownership of CTV, Ivan Fecan announced that he would be stepping down from CTV within the following twelve months.  In a memo to staff, Ivan said: “With the sale of CTV to Bell happening now, I believe it is in the best interests of our company for me to retire… so that the new leader can have a fresh start with a new ownership structure.” 

On April 1, 2011 – BCE Inc. announced that it had completed its acquisition of CTV and launched Bell Media, a new business unit. Coincident with this announcement, BCE confirmed that Ivan Fecan had that day retired as President and CEO of CTVglobemedia and CEO of CTV Inc.

In April 2013, Ivan became Executive Chairman of Thunderbird Films.

Written by Pip Wedge – February, 2005