CJAL-TV , Edmonton

Bellglobe Media


The Alberta Government launched ACCESS (the Alberta Educational Communications Corporation) on June 30 to provide educational programming for insertion in the schedules of certain commercial Alberta television stations.


John Mann was appointed general manager, technical services.


Peter L. Senchuk was named president of Access Alberta, succeeding Larry Shorter. He had been vice president and general manager of CKSA-AM-TV Lloydminster. At this time he was president of the Broadcast Association of Alberta and a director of CAB.


The Calgary operations of ACCESS moved to new facilities at 295 Midpark Way S. E. The new building provided 32,000 square feet – an increase of 12,000 over the previous locations. The Calgary operation employed some 80 full and part-time people. In addition to television operations, the new facility also housed a news bureau for CKUA Radio.


On January 9, The Alberta Educational Communications Corp. was granted a licence for a television station at Calgary. CIAN-TV would operate on cable channel 13 with a power of 1,800 watts. Once launched, it would be the first TV station owned by Access.


On January 13, Access launched a new educational television service. Programming was previously limited to a morning time block on a number of TV stations in Alberta. The new satellite service, uplinked from Edmonton, was to provide 84 hours weekly, 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily, distributed by cable systems. Access leased a full transponder on Anik C3 from Telesat Canada. Access Radio (CKUA Stereo) was scheduled to begin satellite delivery later in the year.

Malcolm Knox was named general manager of television and market development for Access. He had been with Allarcom.


On December 1, ACCESS was granted a television licence for Edmonton, CJAL-TV would operate on cable channel 9 with an effective radiated power of 9,000 watts, to rebroadcast the programs of the Access Network Educational Television Service. The Calgary transmitter (approved in 1984) was to be on the air by the end of the year.


On February 5, the CRTC approved the application to amend the licence for the English-language television station at Calgary, authorized in Decision CRTC 84-8, by decreasing the effective radiated power from 1,800 watts to 1,600 watts.

It was announced that because of budget restrictions, there would be a delay in the launch of the over-the-air Access transmitters at Calgary and Edmonton. They were now expected to be in operation by July 15, 1988. For the past two years, Access TV’s programming had been delivered to cable systems by satellite, with programs scheduled seven days per week, 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.


Access received an extension (#4) to get its Calgary and Edmonton transmitters on the air. It now had until August 31, 1989 to receive the needed Alberta government grants to go on the air.


ACCESS received approval to increase the effective radiated power for its Calgary transmitter from 1,600 watts to 2,400 watts. The power increase would be coupled with a decrease in antenna height.


Access Alberta had its television licence renewed. Despite three extensions of deadlines, the educational station was still not on the air, due to funding problems.

CJAL-TV Edmonton was authorized to decrease effective radiated power from 9,000 watts to 8,200 watts, to relocate the transmitter from Sherwood Park to a location 16 km southeast of the city, and to relocate co-owned CKUA-FM’s transmitter to that same site. The changes would result in improved coverage for both stations.


Access appointed Don Thomas as president and chief executive officer. His 44 years in broadcasting included 21 years at CFCN in Calgary. At Access, he was general manager of CKUA Radio for seven years, and interim president for the past 14 months.


On July 20, the CRTC approved Canada’s first privately-owned educational television service with the purchase by Learning Skills Television of Alberta Ltd. of the Alberta Educational Communications Corp. (ACCESS). The purchaser was a consortium that included CHUM Ltd. (60% of the voting shares), Moses Znaimer and Ron Keast. The service was sold for one dollar. Znaimer was president of CHUM-owned CITY-TV in Toronto. Keast was now the president and CEO of ACCESS. ACCESS, was the independent corporation responsible for broadcasting educational programming in Alberta and was controlled by its Board of Directors appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council of Alberta on behalf of Alberta’s Ministry of Education and Ministry of Advanced Education and Career Development. The new name for the service would be ACCESS, Learning and Sills Television of Alberta. The service was delivered via satellite to cable systems and there were two over-the-air transmitters – in Edmonton and Calgary. LTA’s programming, which was to be at least 60% educational, would include 21 hours a week of university-level courses, and a daily 30-minute newscast about jobs and their educational requirements. The network would be allowed six minutes per hour of advertising to a maximum of 501 per week. There would be no commercials in programming aimed at children under 12, or in air time purchased by the provincial ministries responsible for education unless the product was integrally related to learning. LTA would place ads between programs and not air infomercials. In 1993, the Government of Alberta undertook a re-evaluation of all provincially-funded activities, and announced that it would not provide direct funding for ACCESS beyond 1994. This decision resulted in the sale of ACCESS.


In February, CHUM Ltd. acquired the remaining 40% interest in Learning & Skills Television of Alberta Ltd., giving the company 100% of the shares. Among those selling their shares: Olympus Management Ltd. (Moses Znaimer), director and Chairman and Executive Producer of LTA; and CHUM’s President and CEO Jay Switzer.


On November 22, the CRTC approved the transfer of effective control of CHUM Limited from Mr. Allan Waters to his estate, following his death in December 2005. The approval represented the preliminary step to enable the transfer of CHUM’s shares to a trust, which received approval on July 12. This transfer was not related to the pending sale of CHUM to Bell Globemedia. Prior to his death, Mr. Waters was the sole shareholder of Allan Waters Ltd., which in turn, owned approximately 87% of CHUM’s voting shares. The executors of the estate were James Allan Waters, Ronald Allan Waters, Sheryl Bourne and Robert Sutherland.


August 31 was the deadline for conversion of mandatory market TV stations to digital from analog. This broadcaster was licensed as a satellite-to-cable operation and not required to offer over-the-air service. Because of the costs involved in converting CJAL and CIAN to digital, it was decided these over-the-air operations would end on August 31. The station would continue only as a satellite-to-cable operation.

The story continues elsewhere…
Effective September 1st 2019, we will only be adding new material to these station histories in exceptional circumstances. Our intent to chronicle the early days of these radio and television stations has been achieved, and many new sources and technologies, from the CRTC website to Wikipedia, and others, are now regularly providing new information in these areas.

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