CKX-TV, Brandon


StationYearChannelNetwork AffiliateOwner/Info
CKX-TV19555CBCCraig Broadcast Systems


Western Manitoba Broadcasters Ltd., owner of CKX-AM, received a licence for the operation of a television station, operating on channel 5 with an effective radiated power of 19,300 watts video and 9,650 watts audio.

D.A. “Doug” Lee was appointed CKX-TV program director. He had been with CKX-AM for six years.


Betty Murphy was Promotions Manager. Humphrey Davies was an engineer. Archie Olson was Commercial Manager.

CKX-TV Channel 5 went on the air at 7:00 p.m., January 28, with a live program from the studio and continued with a live evening news, weather and sports offering followed by film and kinescoped CBC network programs. CKX-TV was Manitoba’s first privately-owned television station. CKX-TV had a bonus audience over the Saskatchewan border. The nearest TV stations: West: 288 miles, East: 140 miles, South: 175 miles, North: none. The coverage area took in a population of 140,000.

CKX-TV took delivery of a 5,000 watt transmitter from Canadian General Electric. Existing power was around 20 kW ERP and the transmitting system had been designed to enable an increase to 100 kW ERP when warranted by market development.

Canadian Professional Football games, including the Grey Cup final, would be seen live from Vancouver on inter-connected Eastern stations. Delayed telecasts would be seen on all other stations on either the Sunday or Monday following the game. The 10 connected stations in the East were: CBLT, CBOT, CBMT, CHCH, CFPL, CKCO, CKLW, CKWS, CHEX, and CKVR. These stations would carry 20-26 games. Fourteen games would be seen on CKSO, CJIC and CFPA…stations not connected to the microwave. In the West, seven stations would carry kinescopes of the games to be played in Western Inter-provincial Football: CBWT, CKX, CKCK, CFQC, CHCT, CFRN and CBUT. 


On April 28, the microwave system that linked Canadian TV stations was joined by CKX and Regina’s CKCK-TV. The link brought live CBC network programming to CKX-TV, augmenting the locally-produced shows.

By this time, CKX-TV was broadcasting with an effective radiated power of 19,300 watts video and 9,650 watts audio. It was a basic affiliate of the CBC network. Ownership of Western Manitoba Broadcasters Limited: J. B. Craig 35.6%, E. Fotheringham 6.3%, J. C. P. Mitchell 0.2%, R. O. McDiarmid 0.6%, J. E. Elviss 0.4%, Margaret A. McDiarmid 6.3%, Estate of J. L. Rust 5.8%, Mrs. Jean C. Smith 5.8%, Finance and Management Ltd. (A. E. Boyd) 13.1%, Corporate Management & Services Ltd. (N. W. Kerr) 13.6%, D. Sprague 5.1%, J. A. McNaughton 1.7% and 32 other shareholders 5.5%. John B. Craig was president and general manager. Eric Davies was operations manager.


Ad slogans: Dual coverage is complete coverage in Brandon and Western Canada’s rich farming area! CKX TV & Radio. / To move your brand in Brandon – Buy on CKX-TV. 

139 microwave units across Canada went into operation on July 1, carrying TV signals 3,900 miles over the longest microwave network in the world. The CBC’s Dominion Day program “Memo to Champlain” inaugurated the system. The network linked together Canada’s 40 privately owned TV stations and 8 CBC stations, providing live TV to 80% of the Canadian population between Victoria, B.C. and Sydney, N.S. Newfoundland was expected to be on the network in 1959. The CBC, in cooperation with CFRN-TV Edmonton, CKCK-TV Regina, CKLW-TV Windsor and CHSJ-TV Saint John, used the inaugural program as an electronic travelogue to visit 15 Canadian cities. The microwave network was called the Trans-Canada Skyway.

Al Comez was chief engineer. Marvin M. Freeman was appointed promotion director for CKX Radio & Television. Doug Jouhnson was farm director.


CKX-TV completed a studio addition and a second camera was added.


Some of the staff: Jim Struthers (news director), Henry Stothard (sports director), John Wallace (news), Jack Tennant, Bob Carle and Ken Johnson.

Ad: To get results … buy CKX Radio – 10,000 watts – CKX Television – channel 5.

CKX-TV filed for a power increase from 19,600 to 100,000 watts video and an increase in antenna height (EHAAT) from 304 to 600 feet. 

The BBG turned down colour telecasting for now. There was mixed reaction to the decision. CKX’s John Craig said, “Quite frankly I think colour television would do wonders for the industry and give it a lease on life such as we have not experienced to date”.

Approval was granted by the BBG for CKX-TV to increase effective radiated power to 53,900 watts video and 26,500 watts audio.

Canadian General Electric was building a new antenna for CKX-TV.


CKX-TV increased power to 100,000 watts and the tower height from 306 feet to 607 feet.


A rebroadcast transmitter was added at Foxwarren on June 25.

The Melita transmitter followed on June 28.  

On the 10th anniversary, January 28, the station introduced a videotape machine (black & white) which greatly increased production capability.

Effective radiated power was listed as 54,000 watts video and 27,000 watts audio. The Foxwarren transmitter (channel 11) had an ERP of 6,400 watts video and 3,480 watts aduio while the Melita transmitter (channel 9) had an ERP of 118 watts video and 94 watts audio. John B. Craig was President of Western Manitoba Broadcasters Ltd. and General Manager of CKX-TV. Stuart Craig was Operations Manager. 


The first colour network telecast was on September 1st and two rebroadcasting stations were added at Foxwarren, and Melita, Manitoba, which greatly increased coverage of the station.


CKX proposed to remain a CBC affiliate but sought a rebroadcaster at Brandon to handle CTV programming from Winnipeg. Both CBWT and CJAY (Winnipeg) sought Brandon rebroadcasters, which would leave CKX with no affiliation. CTV supported CJAY’s bid for a Brandon transmitter. CJAY proposed to carry full service of 113 hours weekly and be in operation in the fall of ’68. The CBC rebroadcaster would have 110 hours weekly, 77 of which would be network, or 15 hours more than CKX was carrying as a CBC affiliate. 33 hours would be programmed by CBWT with Manitoba-originated programs. The BBG denied CJAY’s entry into Brandon and would decide later on the CKX proposal to offer alternative service.


Stuart Craig

President J.B. Craig announced the appointment of A. Stuart Craig as vice president and managing director of the company, effective January 1. He had been operations manager.

After becoming Managing Director, Stuart Craig started negotiations with Winnipeg’s CJAY-TV for a joint venture with that station to bring CTV service to Brandon. 

Vince M. Dodd was named program director for CKX Radio and TV. He would continue to host “Rise and Shine” on CKX-AM-FM. 


Vince M. Dodds was appointed Production Manager. He had been involved in station productions as announcer and program host for several years.


On November 26, Western Manitoba Broadcasters Ltd. received approval to reduce channel 5’s effective radiated power from 54,000 to 48,000 watts and increase antenna height from 511 to 1254 feet – from a new transmitter site. CKX would continue to use a directional antenna.


On July 24, CKX-TV was authorized to make further adjustments to the approved 1971 technical application by increasing antenna height further – to 1363 feet (existing 511’ – authorized 1254’ – proposed 1363’).

CTV service began in the Brandon area.


In August, a new 1350 foot tower was completed, at the time the tallest in Canada. On October 31, 1973, CKX-TV went to full colour with two new colour cameras and TV production switcher and facilities.


ENG newsgathering equipment was introduced by CKX-TV, and CTV service was extended to the Dauphin area with a Baldy Mountain transmitter.


CKX-TV-1 at Foxwarren was granted an increase in effective radiated video power from 6,640 watts to 48,600 watts.

The CRTC gave approval for the introduction of local service to Dauphin and Mafeking from CKX-TV studios in Dauphin. 


CKX-TV added a rebroadcast transmitter at McCreary on August 7. It broadcast on channel 11 with effective radiated power of 31,800 watts.


Western Manitoba Broadcasters had their application for a new station at Portage La Prairie (channel 13 with 287,000 watts) denied.


In March, the main CKX-TV tower was brought down in a winter storm. The tower was also home to CJCM-FM, CBC-FM and a rebroadcaster of CKY-TV (Winnipeg). The towers also fell at Baldy Mountain. One belonged to the CBC and the other was a CKX-TV tower.

CKX-TV-3 McCreary was authorized to increase power from 31,800 watts to 38,600 watts.


CKX-TV was authorized to transmit a lower effective radiated power, going from 44,000 watts to 41,700 watts. This was a result of the construction of a new tower (1,350 feet) after the original was destroyed in an ice storm in 1983.

A. Stuart Craig received the 1984 business citizen of the year award from the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce.


This year saw the start of expansion for this company when it was granted a licence for CHMI-TV Portage la Prairie. The station went on the air on October 17th as an independent station with studios in both Portage la Prairie and Winnipeg that were also linked to Brandon, forming the only regional network in Manitoba. This was a result of the construction of a new tower (1,350 feet) after the original was destroyed in an ice storm in 1983.


Bob Neeve became news director for CKX-TV and Radio.


On February 15, the CRTC approved the application to amend the licence for CKX-TV by adding the following condition of licence: In addition to the 12 minutes of advertising material permitted by subsection 11(1) of the Television Broadcasting Regulations, 1987, the licensee may broadcast more than 12 minutes of advertising material in any clock hour in a broadcast day, in order to broadcast infomercials as defined in Public Notice CRTC 1994-139 and in accordance with the criteria contained in that public notice, as amended.


Craig Broadcast Systems was granted TV licences for both Calgary and Edmonton.


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 (Toronto One) in Toronto.

On November 19, the CRTC approved the purchase of Craig Media by CHUM Ltd. and the sale of Toronto One to TVA and Sun Media.


While other CHUM Television stations were branded CITY-TV or A Channel, CKX-TV remained a CBC affiliate, carrying the CBC Network service, and each week-day provided two hours of intensively regional news at noon and 6:00 pm as well as some CHUM/City syndicated programming.


Allan Waters, the founder of CHUM Limited, owner of CKX-TV, 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 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 CKX-TV, 21 specialty channels and some 33 radio stations.


On February 19, CTV Television Inc. announced that it would not seek the renewal of the licence for CKX-TV (and those of its rebroadcasters in Foxwarren, McCreary and Melita). The licences would expire August 31. This was also the date when the station’s longstanding CBC affiliation would expire. CTV said the agreement, in which CBC purchased airtime to carry its network programs and commercials, helped support the cost of maintaining the transmitters and technical equipment that distributed the CBC Television service free over the air to the citizens of western Manitoba. CBC no longer wished to pay for this service. CTV offered CBC an opportunity to purchase the station, noting that without CKX-TV’s facilities there would be no over the air CBC service in the region. The CBC declined, citing it could not afford the long-term operating obligations and paying for the government ordered transition to digital. CTV said it would sell CKX-TV to anyone prepared to continue operating the station (subject to CRTC approval). 

On April 27th the CRTC began hearings to consider CTVglobemedia’s applications for various OTA licence renewals, including CKX-TV, along with similar applications from several other major broadcasting entities. During the hearing, CTVglobemedia reaffirmed its wish not to renew the Wingham, Wheatley/Windsor and Brandon stations, and 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.

 On May 15th, the CRTC announced a one-year licence renewal, effective September 1st 2009, for all of CTVglobemedia’s Over-The-Air stations, including CKX-TV, “….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.”

On  June 30th, CTVglobemedia announced that the deal for Shaw Communications to buy CKX Brandon had fallen through.

On July 6th, the CRTC announced one-year licence renewals, from September 1st 2009 to August 31st 2010, for all the private conventional television programming undertakings operated by CTVglobemedia Inc., including CKX-TV. The decision included requirements for a minimum of 14 hours of local programming per broadcast week in certain designated major markets, and seven hours of local programming per week in certain markets specified as ‘non-metropolitan’, which included CKX-TV.

In addition, despite CTVglobemedia not having applied to renew its licences for CKX-TV Brandon, Man, (which it planned to close down), and CKNX-TV Wingham and CHWI-TV Wheatley/Windsor (which it proposed to convert to rebroadcasters for CFPL-TV London), the CRTC gave one-year renewals to these stations “…in order to avoid jeopardizing any potential discussions, as well as to keep all options open and prevent any premature closing of the stations involved…”.

On July 16th, CTV announced that it had sold CKX-TV for $1 to Bluepoint Investment Corp.  Subject to CRTC approval of the sale, the station would become a Bluepoint property effective December 31st 2009.  In confirming the deal, Bluepoint chief executive Colin Berrie said that the acquisition was the first stage of a strategic plan that was intended to make the company “….a significant media player in North America.”

However, on October 1st CTV Inc. told its Brandon employees that Bluepoint had pulled out of the deal, and that CKX-TV would therefore go dark.   Because Bluepoint had been unable to negotiate satellite carriage of CKX-TV, the station could not hope to operate on a viable basis.

After 54 years serving Western Manitoba, CKX-TV signed off after the suppertime News on October 2nd. The station had always been a CBC affilliate despite the various Owneships. It was owned for 54 of those years by the Craig Family.


Ron Thompson died at the age of 68. For 37 years, he brought TV weather forecasts to the residents of Brandon. He also worked at CKX Radio.

The story continues elsewhere…
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