Western Broadcasting Co. (WIC/Westcom)


Western Broadcasting Co. purchased CKNW-AM New Westminster in February. WBC was controlled by accountant Frank Griffiths and the Ballard family. The station was acquired from Bill Rea who founded the station in 1944.


Western acquired a controlling interest in CJOB-AM and FM Winnipeg from the founder of the stations, J.O. Blick.


The company purchased an interest in Vantel Broadcasting Co. Ltd., owner of CHAN-TV Vancouver and CHEK-TV Victoria.


Western Broadcasting Co. became a publicly traded company. At this time, it controlled Radio N.W. Ltd. (New Westminster) and Radio O.B. Ltd. (Winnipeg).


Western acquired the remaining shares in Radio O.B. Ltd. (Winnipeg) that it didn’t already own.


On May 16, Radio NW Ltd. was granted CRTC approval to establish a new FM station at New Westminster/Vancouver. 

An offer to purchase all of the outstanding shares of British Columbia Television Broadcasting System Ltd. not already held by Selkirk Holdings Ltd., Famous Players Canadian Corp. and Saturna Properties Ltd., a holding subsidiary of Western Broadcasting Co. Ltd. was made by the three companies and accepted by the other shareholders, and subject to regulatory approval. The transaction would give in Class A non-voting shares 43.71% to Selkirk, 32.95% to Saturna and 23.44% to Famous Players. In Class B voting shares: Selkirk would hold 51%, Saturna 28.68% and Famous Players would have 20.32%. In preferred shares, Selkirk would have 40.70%, Famous Players 33.67% and Saturna 25.63%. 

On June 13, the CRTC denied an application for a share transfer by British Columbia Television Broadcasting System Ltd. of 371,887 class B, 447,000 class A non-voting and 46,738 preferred shares. The Commission would not authorize a transfer that would increase the participation of any person or party in the ownership, management or control of more than one company licensed to operate a CTV affiliate. Famous Players Canadian Corp. Ltd. was a shareholder in two member stations of CTV (CHAN, as well as CKCO Kitchener). If this application had been approved, Famous Players would have increased its ownership in BCTV. 

On August 27, CRTC approval was given for the transfer of Okanagan Valley Television Co. Ltd. (CHBC-TV Kelowna) to British Columbia Television Broadcasting System Ltd.


On March 21, British Columbia Television Broadcasting System Ltd. was authorized to transfer 1,900 class A common and 2 class B common shares in Derston Investment Co. Ltd. (a shareholder in British Columbia Television Broadcasting System Ltd.) to Western Broadcasting Co. Ltd. 

On April 17, Famous Players had its application to transfer its broadcasting operations into a new corporation – Teltron Communications Ltd., denied. Famous Players Canadian Corp. was a controlled subsidiary of Paramount International Films Inc. The application was denied because effective ownership of Teltron would have remained essentially the same as before. Famous Players had interests in Television de Quebec Ltee, Central Ontario Television Ltd., British Columbia Television Broadcasting System Ltd., and numerous cable companies. 

On July 23, the transfer of 20,905 common shares of Canastel Broadcasting Corp. Ltd. from Associated Television Corp. Ltd. to Selkirk Holdings Ltd. and 25,655 common shares in Canestel from Associated to Western Broadcasting Co Ltd. was approved. Canestel had substantial interests in CHAN-TV Vancouver, CHEK-TV Victoria and CJCH-TV Halifax. The portion of the application regarding CHAN and CHEK was approved. The CJCH portion of the application was deferred.


Radio NW Ltd. launched CFMI-FM New Westminster/Vancouver on March 22. 

On March 25, Bentley Broadcasting Co. Ltd. was given approval to sell CHQR-AM Calgary to Radio QR Ltd. (Western). Bentley’s Ted Soskin was appointed to Western’s Board of Directors and continued to manage the station after the ownership transfer which took place on April 15.


On July 8, Radio ML Ltd. (Western) was granted permission to acquire CHML-AM and CKDS-FM Hamilton from Maple Leaf Broadcasting Co. Ltd.


Winnipeg’s CJOB-FM became CHMM-FM.


Ray Peters signed a contract with Frank Griffiths to take the position of President of Western while still maintaining his position as CEO of BCTV.


On October 22, the CRTC turned down an application that would have seen the transfer of effective control of Western Broadcasting Co. Ltd. thru the transfer of 55.8% of the common shares of WBC from companies controlled individually or jointly by F.A. Griffiths, D.S. Owen and J.R. Peters – North Continent Communications Ltd. (26.3%), Doncaster Investments Ltd. (19.5%), Atlin Investments Ltd. (1.9%) and Peters Management Ltd. (0.3%) to J. Raymond Peters, on behalf of a company to be incorporated; and the entry into a voting trust agreement by the proposed shareholders of the company to be incorporated. This deal was tied in with a similar proposed transfer of Premier Cablevision Ltd. of which WBC held 26.1%.


From 1961 until this time, Ray Peters had been CEO of BCTV (the former Vantel Broadcasting). In 1963, Frank Griffiths purchased an option to buy CHEK-TV Victoria.  Peters convinced Griffiths to transfer his option to Vantel and purchase a minor share position in Vantel. This was before cable had a dominant share of the households and CHAN needed coverage of Victoria in order to compete for audience against a very strong KVOS Bellingham (WA).


Radio NW Ltd. became NW Radio Ltd., Radio OB Ltd. became OB Radio Ltd., Radio QR Ltd. became QR Radio Ltd., and Radio ML Ltd. became ML Radio Ltd. These companies were now owned by WIC Western International Communications with Western Broadcasting Co. becoming the Griffiths family holding company. WBC held all of WIC’s Class A voting shares while Class B shares were offered to the public. 

Western Broadcasting took legal action against the Canadian Football League over radio broadcast rights. Western had exclusive rights to regular games of the five western CFL teams during 1980-82, and claimed it should have been allowed to meet any offers when the agreement came up for renewal. However, the CFL awarded the 1983-85 rights to CHUM Western Ltd. (CFRW in Winnipeg). 

Ray Peters put together an agreement between Western and Peters, Whittall, Saunders and White representing the controlling balance of BCTV. They filed an application with the CRTC and it was approved, giving Western control of BCTV.


On June 18, the Western Information Network was launched. Through satellite broadcasts from the Anik E Satellite, WIN programming became available throughout British Columbia.  

Winnipeg’s CHMM-FM became CKIS-FM.


By this time, all of the individual subsidiary companies (i.e.: Radio ML Ltd.) were merged into Westcom Radio Group Ltd. for radio and Westcom Television Group Ltd. for television. 

On November 14, the CRTC approved the sale of CFGM and CILQ-FM by Slaight Communications Inc. to Westcom Radio Group Ltd. CFGM and Q107 were sold because Slaight had received approval to acquire Standard Broadcasting Corp. Ltd. Standard holdings included CFRB-AM and CKFM-FM in Toronto. Because of ownership restrictions, he would not have been able to own two English AM stations and two English FM stations in the same market.


On August 10, an application by Hometown Radio Inc. to purchase CHML and CKDS-FM Hamilton from Westcom Radio Group Ltd. was denied. Hometown’s prospective shareholders included the Dofasco Employees Savings and Profit Sharing Fund and the Dofasco Supplementary Retirement Income Plan, each with 12.5% of the voting shares. The remaining 75% was to be held indirectly by Don Luzzi, a Hamilton native with a lengthy career in broadcasting. Mr. Luzzi joined the staff of CHML and CKDS in 1976 and had served as General Manager since 1981.


J.E. (Ted) Smith was president and CEO of Westcom Radio Group.

Doug Holtby left Allarcom Ltd. in Edmonton, where he was president. He joined WIC as executive vice-president.

On September 28, the CRTC approved the purchase of Selkirk Communications Ltd. by Maclean Hunter Ltd. and then the transfer of Calgary Television Ltd. (CFAC-TV and its transmitters CFAC-TV-1 Drumheller and CFAC-TV-2 Banff) and of Lethbridge Television Ltd. (CFAC-TV-7 Lethbridge and its transmitters CFAC-TV-6 Coleman, CFAC-TV-5 Brooks and CFAC-TV-4 Burmis) to Westcom TV Group Ltd. Westcom also obtained Selkirk’s 41% interest in BCTV, giving Westcom 100%.


Ray Peters retired January 1.

Western International Network introduced a new digitized satellite transmission service to carry ready to air programs and data to 71 stations in British Columbia and Alberta. The six channel system increased the number of audio signals that could be simultaneously transmitted, providing WIN-linked stations with a greater range of programs. The system had a single uplink located at CKNW and was beamed to the Anik C2 satellite. It replaced the two channel C-band satellite system that had been in operation since 1984. The WIN network produced and transmitted about 95 hours a week of live programming. 

CFGM-AM Toronto (Richmond Hill) became CHOG-AM.

Dr. Charles Allard agreed to sell Allarcom Ltd. (CITV Edmonton) to WIC for cash and WIC shares, pending CRTC approval. Allard and his son Peter would become WIC directors. Allard said he worried about CITV surviving as a single independent station. It was felt CITV would be a natural fit with WIC’s CFAC-TV Calgary.


CKIS-FM Winnipeg became CJKR-FM.

CKDS-FM Hamilton became CJXY-FM. 

On February 6, the CRTC approved the applications by WIC Western International Communications Ltd., on behalf of its wholly-owned subsidiary, Westcom TV Group Ltd., for authority to acquire CITV-TV Edmonton and CITV-TV-1 (CITA-TV) Red Deer, as well as CKRD-TV Red Deer and its rebroadcaster CKRD-TV-1 Coronation, from Allarcom – effectively controlled by Dr. C. Allard of Edmonton, through his ownership of approximately 79% of Cathton Holdings. The transfer of ownership was completed March 22. The acquisition of Allarcom made WIC the country’s 4th largest private television operation in terms of viewing and revenue. The company was now awaiting CRTC approval to purchase CHCH-TV in Hamilton from Maclean-Hunter. 

Dr. Charles Allard died at the age of 71.

On October 18, the CRTC approved the sale of CHCH-TV by Maclean Hunter to Western International Communications – provided Westcom TV Group Ltd. sold either CHAN-TV Vancouver or CHEK-TV Victoria within two years. 

WIC wanted a new hearing to argue against a CRTC decision that it sell either CHEK or CHAN within two years if it wanted to buy CHCH. WIC’s board decided not to accept the CRTC’s conditions, calling them unacceptable in light of financial implications to the company and reduced service consequences to the viewing public. 

WIC announced that it planned to file a new application with the CRTC for transfer of ownership of CHCH and ask for another hearing. WIC president Doug Holtby said the company would abandon the deal if the commission insisted on the sale of either of its B.C. stations. The CRTC decision said CHEK and CHAN served the same market and having two stations with the same ownership in one market was against commission rules. A CRTC spokesperson said the situation was one the regulator had wanted to rectify for some time.


The CRTC approved the applications by Westcom Radio Group Ltd. to acquire the assets of CKNG-FM and CHED from a partnership of Moffat Communications and Maclean-Hunter. 

WIC Premium Television received approval from the CRTC in January to carry on an English-language, general interest pay television programming undertaking for the distribution of a pay-per-view service via satellite to cable companies in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon. This service would later be known as Viewer’s Choice.

WIC submitted a new application to the CRTC for permission to purchase CHCH-TV – while retaining its two British Columbia television stations. The commission approved the purchase on December 23.


Westcom TV Group took ownership of CHCH-TV on January 1.

United Broadcast Sales (Westcom) Limited and All-Canada Radio (Rogers) formed a partnership on January 1, under the name Canadian Broadcast Sales.


WIC, through its wholly-owned subsidiary WIC Premium Television Ltd., formerly known as Allarcom Premium Television Limited, obtained a pay television licence for MovieMax! The service was launched in the fall. 

Frank Griffiths passed away at the age of 77 on April 7, the day he was to be inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame.


Edmund King, deputy chairman of Wood Gundy Inc., was the new chairman of the company. 

On September 21, the CRTC approved the sale of CKIK-FM by CHEZ-FM Inc. to Westcom Radio Group Ltd. The sale closed on October 1.


In September, WIC, through its subsidiaries and with partners, was awarded licences for two new specialty services. Teletoon, a national animation specialty service in French and English; and Report on Business Television (ROBTv) – a national news and information channel covering all aspects of business, finance and economics. 

John S. Lacey was appointed President and CEO of WIC effective November 1. James B. Macdonald, President and CEO of ONtv (CHCH) in Hamilton, was appointed President and CEO of WIC Television Ltd. effective September 1, upon the retirement of Donald M. Smith.


Emily Griffiths, president of Western Broadcasting and controlling shareholder of WIC, retired on the third anniversary of her husband Frank’s death. She said she had always intended to leave at age 75. Mrs. Griffiths remained with the company as chairman emeritus. She was succeeded on the board of directors by Edmondo Giacomelli. 

Westcom Radio Group became WIC Radio and Westcom TV Group became WIC Television. 

Teletoon launched September 1 in French and on October 17 in English. 

WIC purchased CFCF-TV in Montreal. The transaction closed September 1. 

In November, WIC sold its interests in CTV Network Ltd. to Baton Broadcasting Inc. WIC’s three CTV-affiliated stations would remain so until the year 2000, under the terms of their affiliation agreements. 

A long-term program agreement was entered into with Global, to acquire exclusive rights to programming for Alberta. 

ExpressVu direct to home satellite television was launched by the company (WIC and Cancom) on September 10. The CRTC had licenced the operation in December of 1995.


The Griffiths family holdings in WIC Western International Communications Ltd. were sold, subject to CRTC approval, to Shaw Communications Inc. and CanWest Global Communications Corp. 

Thomas C. Peddie was President and Chief Executive Officer. Harold A. Roozen was Chairman. 

WIC Radio President Ted Smith left that position at the end of December.


Following months of negotiation, agreements were filed with the CRTC on the split of WIC assets between CanWest Global, Corus Radio Company (formerly Shaw Radio), and Shaw Communications. 

Doug Rutherford was appointed President and CEO of WIC Radio Ltd. effective January 1. Malcolm Knox was appointed President and CEO of WIC Premium Television effective February 15. Art Reitmayer was appointed President and CEO of WIC Television Ltd. on June 10. 

ROBTv launched September 1. 

On August 31, WIC’s subsidiary, CF Television Inc. acquired a forty per cent indirect interest in CTEQ Television, an ethnic TV station located in Montreal. 

Toronto’s CHOG-AM became CFYI-AM. 

The new WIC Western International Communications CEO was Peter Classon, who succeeded Thomas Peddie. Classon had served on WIC’s Board of directors but was probably best known as the former President/CEO of the BC Lions football club.


Following an April hearing in Vancouver, in July, the CRTC announced the approval of the purchase of WIC Radio by Corus Radio Company.

Corporate Reorganization:  CRTC Decision 2000-70
Transfer of TV assets to CanWest: CRTC Decision 2000-221
Transfer of radio assets to Corus: CRTC Decision 2000-222

In the end, Western owned the following television stations: CICT Calgary, CITV Edmonton, CHCH Hamilton, CISA Lethbridge, CHBC Kelowna, CFCF and CJNT Montreal, CKRD Red Deer, CHAN Vancouver and CHEK Victoria. The following specialty and premium channels were owned by the company: Superchannel, MovieMax, Viewers Choice (Western Canada), Report on Business Television (50%), Family Channel (50%) and Teletoon/Télétoon (20%). Western’s radio stations: Calgary – CHQR, CKIK-FM, Edmonton – CHED, CKNG-FM, Hamilton – CHML, CJXY-FM, Toronto – CFYI, CILQ-FM, Vancouver – CKNW, CFMI-FM and Winnipeg – CJOB, CJKR-FM.

Western Broadcasting Co. (WIC/Westcom) Radio Stations

(Click on the call letters to view individual station histories)

CFGQ-FM107.3Calgary, AB
CFMI-FM101.1New Westminster/Vancouver, BC
CFMJ-AM640North York, ON
CHED-AM630Edmonton, AB
CHML-AM900Hamilton, ON
CHQR-AM770Calgary, AB
CILQ-FM107.1North York, ON
CJKR-FM97.5Winnipeg, MB
CJOB-AM680Winnipeg, MB
CJXY-FM107.9Hamilton, ON
CKNG-FM92.5Edmonton, AB
CKNW-AM980New Westminster/Vancouver, BC

Western Broadcasting Co. (WIC/Westcom) Television Stations

(Click on the call letters to view individual station histories)

CFCF-DT12.1 (12)Montréal , QC
CHBC-TV2Kelowna, BC
CHCH-DT15 (11.1)Hamilton, ON
CICT-DT2.1Calgary, AB
CISA-DT7.1Lethbridge, AB
CITV-DT13.1Edmonton, AB
CJNT-DT62Montréal , QC