The Edmonton-based Shaw family took its first steps into the world of broadcasting on December 9th. JR Shaw, in partnership with R.K. Banister and Lyle Roper, incorporated Capital Cable Television Co. Ltd.
In the spring, Capital Cable applied to Edmonton Telephones for a cable operating franchise.
They were told that they first had to get ‘the proper approvals’ from Ottawa, and JR approached Dr. Andrew Stewart, then Chairman of the Board of Broadcast Governors. Stewart told JR there was ‘ no way’ he would be given the right to import distant US signals by microwave to distribute in the Edmonton area. Undeterred, JR continued to make plans for what he was convinced would be an eventual Edmonton cable service.
The new 1969 Broadcasting Act provided for cable systems to be licensed, and Capital filed its application on July 27th.
In July, after a series of set-backs, Capital Cable finally received a licence to serve half of the Edmonton market by cable. Ed Polanski’s QCTV was licensed to serve the other half. In subsequent years JR Shaw, now with new partners, was to expand his cable holdings dramatically.
In October, and well before Shaw would own a conventional over-the-air broadcast property, Capital Cable launched the first community channel in Edmonton, on Channel 10. Broadcasting for eight hours a week (which would go to 30 hours a week within ten years) from a former school in Sherwood Park, the channel covered local hockey games, horse shows and charity fund-raising walks, as well as programs on local issues.
Not long after the community channel started, Shaw had moved to increase its audience with the introduction of adult films after midnight, under the title “Powder Blue Movies” (with echoes of Toronto’s CITY-TV’s ‘Baby Blue Movies”). But in April 1975 the police seized one of the movies in response to complaints. In May, in return for receiving CRTC approval to add a US ABC affiliate to the distant signals they were licensed to import, Capital dropped Powder Blue Movies from their community channel.
It would still be many years before Shaw would develop an interest in acquiring conventional broadcasting outlets.
After abandoning a bid to acquire Ed Polanski’s QCTV in 1986 (losing out to Montreal’s Videotron Ltée), Shaw once again began turning its eyes to conventional broadcasting. JR had seen the potential synergy between ownership of radio (“the voice”) and cable (”the video”), and decided to acquire some radio properties. Shaw Radio Ltd. was formed, and early in 1987, Shaw received approval to buy four stations in central and southern Alberta. By acquiring Park Country Broadcasting, they acquired CKGY-AM and CFCR-FM Red Deer, and later their purchase of Southern Alberta Broadcasting gave them ownership of CHEC-AM Lethbridge, and CKTA-AM Taber, all in Alberta. CKTA-AM soon became CFEZ, and moved from Taber to Lethbridge, and on November 2nd, CFCR-FM became CIZZ-FM.
On May 27th, through its purchase of CISN Holdings, Shaw acquired ownership of CISN-FM radio in Edmonton.
On August 20, the CRTC approved the sale of CKLG-AM and CFOX-FM Vancouver from Moffat Communications Ltd. to Shaw Radio Ltd. This was part of Moffat’s sale of its entire radio division. Transfer of CKLG/CFOX-FM to Shaw was completed September 1.
On January 22, the CRTC approved the sale of CHQT Broadcasting Ltd. by Monarch Broadcasting Ltd., which owned CHQT-AM in Edmonton, to Shaw Radio Ltd. CHQT shortly thereafter moved in with its new sister station CISN-FM. In return, Shaw sold CFEZ-AM Lethbridge to Monarch Broadcasting, and the station returned to its previous call letters, CKTA-AM.
On December 19th, Rogers Communications Limited received CRTC approval to acquire effective control of Maclean Hunter Limited, and Rogers announced the sale of Key Radio CFNY Ltd. (CFNY-FM Toronto-Brampton)) to Shaw Communications Inc. The CFNY studios were moved shortly thereafter from Brampton to new accommodation in the Eaton Centre, thereby offering greater access to the public, artists and events.
During the year, Shaw was watching with interest as Western International Communications (WIC) began to appear vulnerable to a hostile takeover. WIC properties included Vancouver’s BCTV, and powerful New Westminster radio station CKNW. Shaw’s ambitions would, however, take several years to fructify.
After much heart-searching, JR wrote to the Mayor of Edmonton on January 5th to advise her formally that Shaw would be moving its corporate headquarters from Edmonton to Calgary.
On June 10, an application by Shaw Radio Ltd., Margot M. Micallef, Ron D. Rogers, Hal E. Blackadar, Bob Lang and J.T. Strain to acquire 65% of Burlington Broadcasting Incorporated, owners of CING-FM Burlington, was approved. Shaw would be responsible for managing CING operations.
Later in the year, Shaw acquired 100% of CING-FM.
The Griffiths family, owners of WIC, agreed to sell WIC to Shaw Communications. However, competing interest from CanWest resulted in a lawsuit that would take two years to settle, and to determine who would own what under a final settlement. In the event, the WIC broadcast elements acquired by Shaw under the final deal would be immediately transferred to Corus Entertainment (see below).
On September 2nd, former CTV President John Cassaday joined Shaw Communications Inc. as Executive Vice-President of the corporation, as well as President and CEO of Shaw Media. JR. Shaw, Chairman and CEO of Shaw, said that Cassaday’s role would be to help the company “…to position Shaw as a true communications company with significant interests in both content and distribution.”
On November 6th, the CRTC approved an application by Shaw Communications Inc for permission to transfer all its shares in various broadcasting undertakings to a new wholly-owned subsidiary titled Mediaco, and subsequently to a holding company, Holdco.
On September 1st, Shaw Communications Inc announced that the company would be separated into two distinct publicly-traded corporations, Shaw Communications Inc. and Corus Entertainment Inc. Shaw Communications Inc. would continue to carry on Shaw’s cable television, internet access, telecommunications and satellite business, while Corus, with John Cassaday installed as President, would assume ownership of the Holdco properties and carry on Shaw’s radio broadcasting, specialty television, digital music services and cable advertising service business. Corus thus became owners of the eleven radio stations previously purchased by Shaw, and – for the time being at any rate – Shaw was out of the conventional broadcaster ownership business.
On November 22, the sale of Norcom Telecommunications Ltd. to Shaw Communications Inc. was approved. The sale included CJBN-TV and Norcom’s cable television systems.
Starting in late 2008, the economic climate had many broadcasters reviewing their financial situations, cutting staff and seeking to sell off unprofitable properties.
CanWest Global Communications was particularly hard hit by the recession, and on February 12th, Shaw Communications Inc, announced that CanWest had responded positively to an offer by Shaw to buy the broadcast and specialty channel assets of CanWest Global Communications Corp., subject to CRTC approval. The deal would give Shaw 80 per cent of the voting interest and at least 20 per cent of the equity interest in CanWest.
On February 19th, it was reported that another group, headed by private equity fund Catalyst Capital Group Inc., had assembled a rival bid for CanWest Global Communications. The bid was supported by Goldman Sachs, and included in the Catalyst group were two former Rogers executives, John Tory (former CEO of Rogers Cable) and Rael Merson, former head of the television division of Rogers Communications. The Asper family supported this bid.
However, late on February 19th the Ontario Superior Court approved the Shaw bid. Shaw were then faced with needing to renegotiate a deal with Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs, from whom the Aspers had secured financial backing at a crucial stage.
On April 27th during a CRTC began hearings to consider CTVglobemedia’s applications for various licence renewals for over-the-air stations, CTVglobemedia reaffirmed a previously stated wish not to renew the licences for their Wingham, Wheatley/Windsor and Brandon stations, and restated its willingness to sell them for a dollar apiece.
On April 30th, in a full-page ad in the Globe and Mail, Shaw Communications CEO and Vice Chair Jim Shaw announced that Shaw was prepared to buy the three CTV stations at $1 each. On the opposite page in the Globe and Mail, in a half page ad, CTVglobemedia announced its acceptance of Shaw’s offer, and thanked the cable operator for ‘stepping up’. The proposed transaction would of course be subject to CRTC approval.
But on June 30th, CTVglobemedia announced that the deal for Shaw Communications to buy the CTV stations in Brandon, Man, and Windsor and Wingham, Ontario, had fallen through.
On May 3rd. Shaw Communications Inc. announced that it had entered into agreements to acquire 100% of the over-the-air and specialty television businesses of CanWest Communications Corp, including all the CW Investments Inc. specialty channels that had been acquired from Alliance Atlantis in 2007. The deal included the acquisition by Shaw of the entire Goldman Sachs equity interest in CW Media Group.
In announcing the deal, Shaw made it clear that the deal was subject to certain conditions, including CanWest creditor and Court approvals, and regulatory approval from the CRTC and the Competition Bureau.
On the same day, it was announced that Jim Shaw had decided to step down as CEO of Shaw Communications, and that his brother Brad had been appointed CEO in his place effective January 13th 2011. Jim would remain involved, as Vice-Chairman of the Board.
Canwest’s sale of its television operations, including its specialty channels, to Shaw Communications received Superior Court approval on June 23rd, after Canwest had reached an agreement with the Asper-led dissenting shareholders.
The sale was still subject to regulatory approvals from the Canadian Radiotelevision and Telecommunications Commission and the Competition Bureau.
On August 9th, the CRTC announced administrative renewals of all the broadcasting licences held by CTVglobemedia, CanWest and Rogers, which would now expire at various dates in 2011 and 2012.
On August 16th, Canwest Global Communications Corp. announced that the Competition Bureau had concluded its review, and would not challenge the proposed transaction between Canwest and Shaw Communications Inc. contemplated by the restated consolidated plan of compromise, arrangement and reorganization relating to Canwest, Canwest Media Inc. and certain of its subsidiaries.
The Canwest Media Inc. entities expected to implement the plan no later than the Fall of 2010, subject to the receipt of CRTC approval.
On October 18th, the CRTC approved an application by Canwest for a new Canadian specialty channel, to be called “Specialty A”. The channel would be devoted to films in the action/adventure genre, with a mix of classical and contemporary features.
On October 22nd, Shaw Communications Inc. announced that the CRTC had approved Shaw’s acquisition of all of the broadcasting assets of Canwest Global Communications Corp. This transaction included the acquisition of 100% of the over-the-air and specialty television businesses of Canwest, including all of Canwest’s equity interests in CW Investments Co., the Canwest subsidiary which owned a portfolio of specialty television channels acquired from Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc. in 2007.
Under the terms of the agreement, Shaw Media acquired Saskatchewan stations CFRE-TV Regina and CFSK-TV Saskatoon, B.C. stations CHAN-TV Vancouver, CHBC-TV Kelowna, CHKL-TV Kelowna, CHKM-TV Kamloops and CIFG-TV Prince George, Alberta stations CICT-TV Calgary, CISA-TV Lethbridge, CITV-TV 1 Red Deer and CITV-TV Edmonton, CIHF-TV Halifax, Nova Scotia, CKND-TV Winnipeg, Manitoba, and CKMI-TV Montreal, Quebec, along with their respective rebroadcasters.
Through the purchase of Canwest, Shaw also acquired sole or joint ownership of several major specialty channels , including Action TV, Dusk, BBC Canada, BBC Kids, HGTV, Movie Time, Reality TV, Fox Sportsworld, The Cave, Mystery, TVtropolis, National Geographic Canada, Deja View, Food Network, History Television, IFC, Séries+, Showcase, Showcase Diva, Slice, Twist TV, One – The Body Mind and Spirit Channel and the Global Reality Channel.
On March 22nd, Shaw announced that it had sold its minority voting interest in One – The Body Mind and Spirit Channel to ZoomerMedia Ltd., who thereby gained 100% ownership of the channel.
On April 29th the CRTC approved an application by Knowledge-West Communications Corporation, a subsidiary of B.C.’s Knowledge Network Corporation, to acquire the BBC Kids specialty channel from Shaw subsidiary Jasper Junior Broadcasting Inc.
On May 31 Shaw Media demonstrated its commitment to the development of Canadian drama production, when it announced that it had 15 new scripted dramas planned for the following year.
On July 27th, the CRTC announced that it was renewing the broadcasting licences for the various television services affiliated with the Shaw Media Inc. broadcasting ownership group from 1 September 2011 to 31 August 2016.
In announcing this decision, the Commission said that it was implementing its new group-based licensing policy for large private English-language ownership groups. This policy was developed to prepare both the broadcasting industry and the Commission for the new reality of large, integrated broadcasting ownership groups. Under this policy, the Commission would reduce its focus on Canadian exhibition and concentrate to a greater extent on ensuring stable funding to Canadian production through programming expenditure requirements, particularly in regard to programming that continued to be under-represented in the Canadian broadcasting system. In addition, the Commission said it had also introduced a much greater level of flexibility in the manner in which television services would make and account for Canadian programming expenditures.
On March 4th, Corus Entertainment Inc. announced that it had reached an agreement with Bell and Shaw Media to acquire each of their respective 50% interests in the French-language specialty channels Historia and Séries, subject to approval by the CRTC and the Competition Bureau. Also, in a separate transaction, Corus had entered into an agreement with Shaw Media that would result in Corus acquiring the remaining 49% interest in the specialty television service ABC Spark from Shaw Media. As part of the agreement, Corus would sell its 20% interest in Food Network Canada to Shaw Media.
On August 28th, the CRTC announced that it would hold a hearing on November 5th 2013, at which the applications that Corus had announced on March 4th, to acquire various properties from Shaw Media and Bell Media, would be heard.
On December 20th, the CRTC announced that it had approved the Corus applications to acquire certain properties from Shaw Media and Bell, subject to certain conditions.
On April 14th, Shaw Communications announced changes to the structure of its operating units that it said would “… improve overall efficiency while enhancing its ability to grow as the leading content and network experience company”. Approximately 400 management and non-customer facing roles would be affected by the organizational changes. To support the new structure, Shaw would be hiring upwards of 100 people and investing resources in specific areas, including procurement, supply chain, marketing, pricing, network architecture, and next generation products.
On March 23, the CRTC approved an application by Shaw Communications Inc. on behalf of Shaw Media Inc. and its licensed subsidiaries, for authority to effect a multi-step corporate reorganization by transferring all of Shaw Communications’ shares in Shaw Media to Corus Entertainment Inc. or one of its subsidiaries. Since the creation of Corus in 1999, the Commission had regarded the two companies to be effectively controlled by J.R. Shaw and this reorganization wouldn’t change that. The deal was expected to close on April 1. In early April, Corus Entertainment completed its $2.65 billion acquisition of Shaw Media. Corus now had 45 specialty TV services, 15 conventional TV channels, 39 radio stations, a global content business, and a portfolio of digital assets.
Shaw Communications announced November 30 that it would close CJBN-TV Kenora. The station’s two local productions (Fishing with Gussy and Good Morning Sunset Country) would continue to air on Shaw TV (cable) in Kenora.
On January 3rd, former CEO Jim Shaw died. He had joined the company founded by his father, JR Shaw, in 1982, eventually becoming Chief Executive Officer in 1998. He stepped down in May 2010, and was replaced as CEO by his brother Brad in January 2011.
CJBN-TV shut down at the end of the broadcast day on January 27. Three jobs were lost.
In May, Shaw Communications announced its intent to divest itself of its 38.6% stake in Corus Entertainment. Shaw said it had entered into an agreement with a syndicate of underwriters led by TD Securities, who agreed to purchase an aggregate of 80,630,383 “Class B” Corus shares at $6.80 per share, amounting to more than $548 million. Shaw had been trying to sell its Corus stake for the past 10 months to fund the expansion of its Freedom Mobile.
Jay Mehr, president of Shaw Communications retired April 9. He had held the role since March of 2016 and was with the company for more than twenty years. Paul McAleese, who had served as president of the wireless division for the last three years, succeeded Mehr.
J.R. Shaw passed away on March 23. He was the founder, Executive Chair, and former CEO of Shaw Communications. Mr. Shaw stepped down as CEO in 1998 when his eldest son, the late Jim Shaw took over. Brad Shaw took on the role in 2010. The company was started in 1966 with the founding of Capital Cable Television Co. Ltd. The company eventually expanded into radio and television and that was spun off into Corus Entertainment. In 1996, the company introduced Western Canadians to the internet, and home phone residential service was launched in 2005. The company purchased Wind Mobile (now Freedom) in 2016.
Shaw Communications temporarily laid off approximately 10% of its workforce, mostly those in retail and sales roles, effective April 16. President and CEO Paul McAleese said the company would provide financial support, using its own funds, to top up affected employees beyond government programs and continue to pay out company benefits and pension contributions during the layoff period. At the time, Shaw was ineligible for emergency government assistance (COVID-19).
Steve White was nominated and expected to join the Board of Directors of Shaw following the January 13, 2021 Annual General Meeting. For the past 11 years, White served as President, Comcast West Division of Comcast Corporation.
Rogers and Shaw announced in March that they would combine in a $26 billion transaction, subject to regulatory approvals. The combined company would create a headquarters for all Western operations at Shaw Court in downtown Calgary where the President of Western operations and other senior roles would be based. Brad Shaw, Executive Chair & CEO of Shaw, and another Director to be nominated by the Shaw family, would be named to the Rogers Board.
Shaw Media Television Stations
(Click on the call letters to view individual station histories)