CKEM-DT, City, Edmonton
|Craig Broadcast Alberta Inc.
On November 1, Craig Broadcast Systems Inc., on behalf of a company to be incorporated (A – Channel Inc.) was licenced to operate new, independent, television stations in Alberta. One would operate at Calgary on channel 5 with an effective radiated power of 33,600 watts, and would have a transmitter at Lethbridge on channel 2 with an effective radiated power of 51,500 watts. The other station would operate at Edmonton on channel 51 with an effective radiated power of 602,000 watts, and would have a transmitter at Red Deer on channel 20 with an effective radiated power of 368,000 watts. Competing applications by CanWest Alberta Television Inc. were denied. A-Channel would be indirectly controlled (60%) by Mr. A. Stuart Craig of Brandon through CBSI. CBSI owned CHMI-TV Portage la Prairie and CKX-TV Brandon, as well as five radio stations in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. It also owns 100% of the company licensed to operate CIRK-FM Edmonton.
A – Channel committed to provide 31 hours and 30 minutes per broadcast week of local programming on each of its Edmonton and Calgary stations. In each case, 17 of these hours would be news programming, 13 hours and 15 minutes would be other information programming, and 1 hour and 15 minutes would be in the form of variety programming. A – Channel indicated that its news programming would be focused “on the urban market as opposed to… the rural and regional market”. A – Channel proposed to broadcast a total of 26 original Canadian long-form drama productions in each broadcast year.
Craig Broadcasting announced that its new TV operations in Edmonton would be located in the former Hudson’s Bay building in the downtown core. Vice president Drew Craig said the location would allow passerby to see behind the scenes at A-Channel. When operational, the new station planned to employ more than 130 people.
CKEM-TV Edmonton went on the air September 18. CKAL Calgary signed on for the first time on September 20. Both stations were known as A-Channel.
CKAL-TV Channel 5 (Cable 8) officially launched on September 20. The station set up its broadcasting facilities in the former Norstar Energy office at the corner of 5th Street and 7th Avenue in downtown Calgary.
As part of its mandate, Craig established the A-Channel Drama Fund, with $14 million to be spent over seven years to support Alberta-based independent products for drama, music and variety programming. Along with its sister station, CKAL-TV in Calgary, CKEM-TV emphasized programming that would not be uncomfortable for 12-year-olds, and fresh, informal coverage of local events, including high school football. Early local programming introduced “The Big Breakfast,” a two-hour early morning show focusing on community events, local issues and volunteers. CKEM-TV also launched “A Channel News @ Six,” a one-hour evening news program.
On November 21, Craig Broadcast Alberta Inc. received approval to increase effective radiated power for CKEM-TV from 602,000 watts to 704,000 watts. The change become necessary as a result of a determination to use an omnidirectional antenna at the approved site, instead of the directional antenna that was originally proposed.
On March 30, a decrease in effective radiated power was granted for CKEM-TV-1 Red Deer, from 368,000 watts to 3,480 watts. A relocation of the transmitter site to a location 22.7 kilometers south-east of the presently authorized location; and change of channel from 20 to 4 was also approved. The changes would improve coverage to the east.
Newsman and talk show host Jerry Bellikka, let go by CHED-AM, became the new senior reporter and legislative reporter for A-Channel Edmonton. Not long after, he moved on to Alberta Family and Social Services. News anchor Alan Carter left A-Channel Edmonton.
Two A-Channel Edmonton newsroom staffers were injured in June when a letter bomb exploded. Assignment Editor Garnet Lewis and reporter Stacey Protzel suffered minor injuries.
Jim Haskins was General Manager. Anchor Paul Mennier joined A-Channel Edmonton.
CKEM-TV won See Magazine’s “Best Television Station” reader poll award.
The CRTC approved an application by Craig Broadcasting Alberta Inc. to permit more flexible use of funds to support independent program production in Alberta. The amendment permitted CKAL-TV and CKEM-TV to use the A-Channel Drama Fund not only for drama, music and variety programming, but also for “priority programming” (formerly called “under-represented categories”) such as long-form documentaries and Canadian entertainment magazine programs. The fund was renamed the A-Channel Production Fund to reflect these changes.
By fall, 15 completed movie projects, one documentary project, one documentary series and two feature documentaries had been licensed through the fund, and 30 projects were in development.
CKEM-TV won the Alberta Television Station of the Year Award from the Alberta Motion Pictures Industries Association (AMPIA) for its support of emerging artists in the province, and also the AMPIA Award for Best News for its Pine Lake Tornado coverage.
Local news levels were increased to 15 hours a week, with “The Best of Big Breakfast” condensed to form an additional 48-minute slot, 30 minutes of news broadcast at noon in addition to one hour at six o’clock and eleven o’clock in the evening, and 34 programs in total.
The CRTC renewed the licence for CKEM-TV Edmonton and its transmitter CKEM-TV Red Deer-1. The station won the AMPIA Award for Best News for A-Channel News @ Six, as well as the AMPIA Award for Best Reporting for “Understanding Islam,” and again won See magazine’s “Best Television Station” reader poll award. It also won the Alberta “Television Station of the Year” Award again from the Alberta Recording Industries Association for its support of emerging artists in Alberta.
On April 10, CHUM Ltd. agreed to acquire Craig Media. Craig decided to sell due a financial crisis brought on by weak results at its stations in the West and greater than expected losses for CKXT-TV in Toronto.
On November 19, the CRTC approved the purchase of Craig Media by CHUM Ltd. and the sale of Toronto One (CKXT-TV) to TVA and Sun Media.
On August 2, A Channel Edmonton was re-branded as City-tv Edmonton “to take advantage of common names, creative elements and promotional opportunities” with other CHUM stations serving major cities.
Allan Waters, the founder of CHUM Limited, passed away at the age of 84, on December 3rd.
On July 12 it was announced that Bell Globemedia would pay C$1.7 billion for CHUM Ltd., in a deal that would see the company become part of the BCE-owned media conglomerate, subject to CRTC approval. On August 31, the two companies announced that BGM had been successful in its offer to acquire approximately 6.7 million common shares and approximately 19.2 million non-voting Class B shares of CHUM. The shares were to be placed in the hands of an independent trustee pursuant to a voting trust agreement approved by the CRTC.
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.
On December 12th, it was announced that Bell Globemedia would henceforth be known as CTVglobemedia.
A CRTC hearing on the CTVglobemedia application to acquire the assets of CHUM Limited was held on April 30th 2007. On June 8 the CRTC approved the acquisition of CHUM Ltd. by CTVglobemedia, on condition that CTV sell off its five City-TV stations, CITY-TV Toronto, CHMI-TV Portage La Prairie/Winnipeg, CKEM-TV Edmonton, CKAL-TV Calgary and CKVU-TV Vancouver. Rogers Communications announced on June 25th that a deal had been reached for them to buy these stations from CTV, subject to CRTC approval. Among the CHUM assets acquired by CTVglobemedia in the deal were seven television stations, including, 21 specialty channels and some 33 radio stations, including CHBN-FM.
Early on the morning of December 2nd, Ted Rogers, founder and former Chief Executive of Rogers Communications, owners of CKRM-TV, died at his home in Toronto, after having suffered from congestive heart failure for some time.
On May 15th, following a hearing that began on April 27th, the CRTC announced a one-year licence renewal, effective September 1st 2009, for the Rogers Citytv stations, including CKEM-Tv Edmonton, “….to give these broadcasters some flexibility during the current period of economic uncertainty.” Group-based licence renewals would then be addressed in the spring of 2010. The Commission also stated that it recognized the impracticability of imposing any conditions relative to 1-1 ratios between Canadian and non-Canadian programming in the ensuing year, given the programming commitments that were already in place.
The Commission would however continue to explore various regulatory measures “…to ensure that English-language television broadcasters devote an appropriate proportion of their expenditures to Canadian programming.”
Rogers cut newscasts at Citytv stations in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto, dismissing 60 staffers – including many on-air personalities, writers, producers, editors and camera people.. “Simple economics” got the blame. A Rogers spokesperson said OTA stations have been bleeding ad revenues since the recession began. Further, said the spokesperson, Rogers was forced to cut underperforming programs because “it’s about delivering results”. Citytv in Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver would no longer produce a 6 p.m. newscast. Rogers Media Television CEO Leslie Sole was quoted as saying: “(The) changes, although difficult, are necessary to align our operations with the economic and regulatory realities of our industry”…
Paul Mennier, the Local Content Manager at Citytv Edmonton, left the station at the end of May.
CKEM-DT channel 17 began broadcasting a test loop on May 26. Regular programming began airing on June 29.
On April 16, the CRTC approved the application by Rogers Broadcasting Limited to amend the broadcasting licence for CKEM-TV Edmonton in order to add a post-transitional digital television transmitter in Edmonton to broadcast the programming of CKEM-TV. The new post-transitional DTV transmitter will operate on channel 17 with an average effective radiated power of 85,000 watts (a maximum ERP of 107,000 watts with an effective height of antenna above average terrain of 294 metres).
On October 7, the CRTC denied applications by Rogers Broadcasting Limited to reduce the overall minimum level of Canadian programming that must be broadcast by the Citytv and OMNI stations from 60% to 55%.
On March 29, the CRTC administratively renewed the licence for a number of conventional television and transitional digital television stations until August 31, 2011.
The Commission said it would consider the applications for renewal of the broadcasting licences for the major English-language private conventional television ownership groups, by taking into account the determinations set out in Broadcasting Regulatory Policy 2010-167. These applications were announced in Broadcasting Notice of Consultation 2010-952 and would be heard at a public hearing to be held on 4 April 2011 in Gatineau, Quebec. The CRTC noted that it does not intend to renew authorizations for full-power analog transmitters operating in the mandatory markets or on channels 52 to 69 outside the mandatory markets beyond August 31, 2011. By that time, the Commission expected licensees to have the necessary authority to broadcast in digital. In addition, the Commission imposed the following condition of licence on the stations that operate in mandatory markets or on channels 52 to 69 outside the mandatory markets: Unless otherwise authorized by the Commission, the licensee shall not transmit analog television signals after 31 August 2011 in mandatory markets designated as such by the Commission in Broadcasting Regulatory Policy 2011-184 or transmit television signals on channels 52 to 69. The Commission also noted that, pursuant to Broadcasting Regulatory Policy 2010-69, it does not intend to renew, beyond 31 August 2011, authorizations for the transitional digital transmitters included in the broadcasting licences of the licensees set out in the appendix to this decision.
On July 27, the CRTC renewed the licences of CKEM-DT and its transmitter CKEM-TV-1 Red Deer, until August 31, 2014. This short-term renewal would permit the Commission to reassess the applicability of the group-based policy and Rogers Media’s commitments to spending on Canadian programming and programs of national interest.
The deadline for television stations in mandatory markets to convert to digital was August 31. CKEM-TV channel 51 signed off on this date and was replaced by CKEM-DT channel 17 (on the air since last year). The virtual channel was 51.1.
Jon Rees left Citytv/Omni Edmonton as production/marketing coordinator to become marketing manager at Rogers Media Television in Toronto – effective January 17. John Wood, manager of technical services at Citytv Edmonton, retired after 42 years. He started working with the CBC in 1968, moved to CHUM Television in 1981, and continued there when it became Citytv. Clint Hollinger became Citytv/OMNI Edmonton’s new engineering manager. He took over from John Wood who retired.
Paula Davies, general manager at Citytv Calgary and Richard Hiron, GM at Citytv Edmonton, were no longer with the company. Paul Williams took on the administrative functions in addition to his sales role at Citytv Calgary, while David Humen did the same thing at Citytv Edmonton (in addition to his sales functions). The Calgary operations of the master control hub for Citytv and OMNI Television in the west would move to Toronto. Those operations had reported to Calgary GM Paula Davies but would now be handled by Virginia Gibberd, VP of Operations in Toronto. Gibberd, responsible for network operations and engineering, also had operational responsibilities for Citytv, OMNI Television, Specialty Television and Sportsnet.
Effective with the start of the new year, Citytv quietly dropped the ‘TV’ from the end of its brand name – right across the country. The stations were now simply known as City. Rogers, noting that it wasn’t just TV anymore, revamped the on-air imagery, advertising and logos.
Gwendolyn Green-Earl succeeded Rob Twarynski as supervisor, media operations at the City and OMNI stations in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. She began her broadcast career at CKX-TV (then A Channel) Brandon in 2000, transferring to Calgary (within Craig Broadcasting) in 2004.
At the start of the year, Citytv and Omni tv were in the process of moving in with the Rogers radio stations (CKER and CHDI) at 5915 Gateway Blvd. The lease at 10212 Jasper Avenue (where the TV stations were located) was up and it was decided to put the radio and TV stations under one roof.
It was announced in June that City Edmonton would begin producing two one-hour daily versions of CityNews (6:00 and 11:00 p.m.), beginning September 4.
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.