The CAB Program Exchange (1962-1986)

The Program Exchange was a concept of Don Jamieson, then co-owner with Geoff Stirling of CJON radio and television in St. John’s, Nfld, who served as President of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, 1961-64. Created in the fall of 1962, the Program Exchange started as a radio program bank and clearing house for programmes produced by CAB member stations, and was run by the CAB. Members were encouraged to share their locally produced programmes with other stations by providing the Program Exchange with one copy. The exchange would make copies available on tape to other members at a modest charge to cover only reproduction and shipping costs.

Gerry Acton, who had joined the Radio Bureau in 1951 as recording operator, was appointed manager of the CAB Program Exchange. With the assistance of a strong advisory committee chaired by J. Stuart MacKay, President, All-Canada Radio & Television Ltd, the Exchange quickly built up a substantial library of short features, interviews, “minitorials” by broadcaster Don Jamieson, Barbershop Harmony groups, news magazine material as well as documentaries. The exchange also developed new programming working with outside organizations such as the Canadian Medical Association, with doctors answering questions about such diseases as were socially acceptable for mention on air at the time. Working with freelance writers, the Exchange developed scripts for tips on cooking, gardening, skiing, etc. which stations could use as local sales vehicles. The Exchange also became a clearing house for BBC and Radio Nederland programs and excerpts, which stations would insert into their own news magazine programs.

A similar program exchange for Television Programming was introduced in January 1963, under the direction of then CAB Vice-Chairman Bob Reinhart of CFPL-TV. However, the swapping of Canadian television programming proved more difficult because of performance rights and more costly duplicating charges The TV Exchange launched a co-op project titled “Canada At Work And Canada at Play”, spearheaded by CFCF-TV’s Bud Hayward, for which member stations were invited to produce two eight minute segments on activities and events local to their area. Topics ranged from potato farming in P.E.I. to the naval dockyards in Victoria through tannery works in Brandon, a flour mill in Wingham, boat building in Peterborough and the tourist industry in Quebec. Stations would then build these segments into their own local programs. In addition to giving national exposure to the stations’ communities, the series showcased the stations’ production talents.

The Program Exchanges served a valuable niche in offering wider distribution of station-produced programming that would not otherwise have received exposure beyond the stations’ local areas. The television exchanges ended with the inception of the annual CanPro Festival in 1974 (see separate feature), and the radio exchange service was discontinued in 1986.

Written by Gerry Acton – 2004