CHSJ-TV, Saint John NB

Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

StationYearChannelNetwork AffiliateOwner/Info
CBAT-DT20114.1 (31)CBCCanadian Broadcasting Corp.
CBAT-TV19944CBCCanadian Broadcasting Corp.
CHSJ-TV19544CBCNew Brunswick Broadcasting Ltd, (Irving Family)


CHSJ filed an application for the operation of a television station – operating on channel 4 with an effective radiated power of 27,800 watts video and 13,900 watts audio through an antenna 1,200 feet above average terrain. The CBC opened Canada’s first television stations in September of 1952 – CBFT Montreal, followed two days later by CBLT in Toronto. The corporation had plans for a number of additional stations of its own, across the country. In March, the CBC, which was also the broadcast regulator, recommended for approval (to the Department of Transport), television licences for the private sector at Hamilton, London, Quebec City, Saint John, Sudbury, Sydney and Windsor. An application for Kitchener was denied. In approving the CHSJ application, the board said the station would extend the national service in addition to providing local coverage. The CBC also announced that private stations would be required to carry programs produced by the CBC. The stations would be paid by the CBC part of the revenue the corporation received from commercial programs, while sustaining and other programs would be supplied free of charge. Tom Drummie, operator of CHSJ radio, said that it was planned to operate the TV station about three hours daily. Another spokesman for the applicant – Duncan MacTavish, representing New Brunswick Broadcasting Co. Ltd., said the outlay of about $470,000 on the station would be made. D. Malcolm Neill of CFNB Fredericton and Bob Bowman of CFBC Saint John, opposed the CHSJ application, and asked for deferment. Neill said his company was preparing an application which would cover a much larger area than the CHSJ proposal, possibly including Saint John, Fredericton and Moncton. Bowman said CFBC was preparing an application which proposed to cover southern New Brunswick and parts of Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley. The CBC said the CHSJ proposal would cover Fredericton but not Moncton. An engineer from Canadian General Electric said with a power increase, CHSJ could possibly provide service in Moncton.


The Irving Family’s New Brunswick Broadcasting Co. Ltd. openedCHSJ-TV on channel 4, at 6:45 p.m. on March 22. The station was originally on the air from 6:45 p.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends. CHSJ-TV’s studio was on Church Street (the existing CHSJ Radio building) and the 25,000 watt transmitter and tower were on nearby Mount Champlain. Microwave was used to send programming from the studio to transmitter. CHSJ-TV was a CBC affiliate.Early Network programs were Uncle Chichimus, Toyland Adventure, The case of Tommy Tucker, Picturesque Denmark, Ford TV Theatre, Camera Magic, Jazz with Jackson and The Big Revue. Early local shows were “Time for Juniors” and “The Maritime Farmers”, a country and western show, and “Jene-ally Yours” a concept to sell television by putting the audience (viewers) on television. The first year this program was on the air, the number of guests totalled 1,238, counting the members of choirs and other groups as individuals.


George A. Cromwell
George Cromwell

CHSJ-TV increased power to 100,000 watts video and 50,000 watts audio. Ownership of New Brunswick Broadcasting Co. Ltd.: New Brunswick Publishing Co. Ltd. 99.7%, T. F. Drummie 0.1%, L. W. Bewick 0.1% and E. K. Logan 0.1%. Thomas F. Drummie was president of the company. George A. Cromwell was manager. William A. Stewart was program director.


Being the only CBC affiliate in the province, CHSJ-TV began to expand its coverage area. On October 8 a rebroadcaster – CHSJ-TV-1 – went on the air at Bon Accord on channel 6.


CHSJ Radio and Television received approval to change studio location from 85 Germain Street to 335 Union Street.


Network colour began in 1966. with studio colour add in 1969. A new building housing studios and offices was opened in 1967.


Les Henwood left CHSJ-TV for Rogers Radio in Toronto. His work on the installation of CHSJ-TV in 1954, led to a permanent position with the station. (Les passed away September 18, 1982) On December 20, the CRTC announced some major changes regarding television service in the Maritimes. CKCW-TV Moncton would fully affiliate with the CTV network, with rebroadcaster at Saint John/Fredericton. Present CKCW-TV rebroadcast facilities at Campbellton and Upsalquitch and of CKAM-TV-1 Newcastle would remain licenced to Moncton Broadcasting Ltd. and remain affiliated with the CBC, supplemented by local CKCW programs. The CBC would be expected to establish transmitters at Fredericton. CHSJ-TV Saint John would remain affiliated with the CBC and would establish a rebroadcaster at Moncton. CJCH-TV Halifax, a CTV affiliate, would extend service to cover fully, the southern part of Nova Scotia, namely the counties of Lunenberg, Queens, Shelburne, Yarmouth and Digby. CJCB-TV Sydney would extend service to Prince Edward Island and would be fully affiliated with CTV. The CBC would be expected to establish rebroadcasters to cover Antigonish and areas of Cape Breton presently serviced by CJCB-TV. Radio-Canada would be expected to extend service to Yarmouth, Saint John-Fredericton, Halifax and Cape Breton.


On May 14, New Brunswick Broadcasting Co. Ltd. was authorized to add a transmitter at Moncton to rebroadcast CHSJ-TV (CBC), operating on channel 7 with 182,000 watts vido and 36,400 watts audio (directional). The new transmitter would receive the CHSJ programming via microwave. CHMT-TV Moncton went on the air as did the channel 4 transmitter at Mt. St. Joseph. These transmitters rebroadcast CHSJ-TV. CKCW-TV Moncton had switched from CBC to CTV and CBC service had to be provided.


CHSJ-TV came under fire from New Brunswick education minister J. Lorne McGuigan for removing the American children’s program Sesame Street from its schedule. CHSJ had dropped Sesame Street in order to meet its Canadian content requirements, and because the station could not earn revenue from the program which did not permit advertising.


On July 5, permission was given for the transfer of shares in New Brunswick Publishing Co. Ltd. from K. C. Irving Ltd. (798 common shares) to Arthur L. Irving (399) and James K. Irving (399). New Brunswick Publishing, a holding company, owned New Brunswick Broadcasting Co. Ltd. (CHSJ-AM-TV Saint John, CHMT-TV Moncton, and CHSJ-TV-1 Bon Accord).


The CRTC hoped it was on the way to solving long-standing reception problems in part of New Brunswick. It gave CHSJ-TV permission for rebroadcasters at Caimpbellton (channel 4 with 32,500 watts) and Newcastle/Chatham (ch 6, 11,000 watts) to provide CBC service. Moncton Broadcasting’s rebroadcasters in the same areas would switch from CBC to CTV. Both companies were urged to improve their coverage in the Miramichi Valley area.


In the continuing effort to provide TV service to northeastern New Brunswick, ATV (CKCW-TV) would change the affiliation of CKCD-TV Campbellton and CKAM-TV Upsalquitch/Newcastle to CTV, and add low power rebroadcasters at Chatham, Blackville, Doaktown and Boiestown; while New Brunswick Broadcasting (CHSJ-TV) would add a rebroadcaster at Boiestown to carry CBC service. Low power rebroadcasters for New Brunswick Broadcasting were approved for Boiestown and Coaktown to carry CHSJ-TV (CBC). CTV service would be extended by a rebroadcaster at Blackville, Chatham, Boiestown and Doaktown, licensed to ATV (CKCW-TV). ATV was also permitted to change the affiliation of its Campbellton, Upsalquitch and Newcastle rebroadcasters from CBC to CTV as soon as CHSJ-TV rebroadcasters at Campbellton and Newcastle/Chatham were operational.


On March 18, the Doaktown rebroadcaster (CHSJ-TV-2) went on the air on channel 2. The CRTC renewed New Brunswick Broadcasting’s seven TV licences, and approval was given for a low power rebroadcaster at Parker Ridge. The company was now providing separate regional programming for northern New Brunswick from its studios in Saint John, and was to improve the signal of CHCR-TV Campbellton, in the Bathurst area.


Rebroadcasters at Boisetown and Parker Ridge were added.


The Mount Champlain (Saint John) transmitter was updated and fully automated. 75 CHSJ Radio & Television reporters, technicians and producers, members of NABET, went on strike.


Kenneth B. Clark was promoted to president of New Brunswick Broadcasting, succeeding Ralph Costello. Clark had been general manager for the past three years and worked previously with CBC Halifax, CJCB-TV and ATV. The licenses for CHSJ-AM and TV were renewed for three years following a review of cross-ownership. New Brunswick Broadcasting was owned by the Irving family who also own the Saint John daily newspapers. The CRTC said the licensee still needs to make some improvements. The Federal Court of Canada said it would allow New Brunswick Broadcasting Co. Ltd. to appeal a CRTC ruling involving media cross-ownership. In August, the Commission renewed CHSJ-TV’s licence for two and a half years, and indicated it might require the Irving family to divest at a later date, if CBC service was otherwise ensured in the province. The decision followed a cabinet directive telling the CRTC not to renew a licence for any company controlling a daily newspaper in the same market, unless there were overriding public interest considerations.


Lawyers for New Brunswick Broadcasting Co. planned to appeal the latest ruling over CHSJ-TV. A federal court upheld a cabinet order which instructed the CRTC to require divestiture of newspaper-owned television stations in the same market, unless there were overriding benefits to the community. As a result of the order, the CRTC in 1983 gave CHSJ-TV a short-term renewal of 27 months so that it could re-arrange its affairs.


CHSJ-TV agreed to a ten-year contract with the CBC, by which the station and its rebroadcasters must remain affiliated with the network. This was related to the company receiving approval to operate a new regional TV service (MITV). The new network would carry many local productions now on CHSJ-TV. This would allow CHSJ to schedule virtually all CBC network programs.


At a hearing involving applications by MITV to change from VHF to UHF channels at Saint John and Fredericton, the CBC put up very strong opposition. The corporation said it had planned to establish its own stations on those channels at the end of the current ten year affiliation agreement with CHSJ-TV. The CBC proposed the CRTC require NBB to surrender the licence of CHSJ-TV when the corporation had the funds to establish owned and operated services in New Brunswick. The Commission deferred discussion on the question to CHSJ-TV’s renewal hearing, to be held later this year. MITV did get the VHF channels. New Brunswick Broadcasting launched MITV (CIHF-TV) on September 5. The station was based in Halifax, N.S. and in Saint John.


The Irving family offered to sell CHSJ-TV to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., but the network didn’t seem interested. J.K. Irving said he and his brother were surprised at the CBC’s lack of interest in the 36-year-ol CBC affiliate.


A popular voice on Saint John radio and TV in the 1950s and 1960s – Foster Marr – passed away at age 77 in November. He was the voice of the Maritime Farmers show on CHSJ-TV for many years. He also hosted a country music program on TV and a weekday radio show from the Saint John city market. Marr was inducted into the New Brunswick Country Music Hall of Fame in 1990.


On December 13 Kenneth Colin Irving passed away at the age of 93. He formed Irving Oil as a young man and went on to build an empire that included New Brunswick Broadcasting Co. Ltd. (CHSJ-AM-TV and MITV). At a CRTC hearing, the CBC opposed the plan by CHSJ-TV to move its Moncton CBC rebroadcaster from channel 7 to channel 27. Bill Donovan, Maritimes director, said the CBC was committed to owning is own channel in the province by August 31, 1998, if not sooner!


CanWest Global Communications was having a look at the New Brunswick Broadcasting Company’s television properties. General manager Larry Nichols said CanWest expressed an interest in CHSJ-TV and MITV, but had no interest in the company’s radio properties.


On August 29, CHSJ-TV ceased to exist. It became CBAT, owned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. New Brunswick had been the only province not served by a CBC owned and operated English language TV station. CBAT uses its existing facility in Fredericton as the main studio. The CRTC approved the sale on April 19, 1994. Call letter changes to the rebroadcast transmitters: Bon Accord CHSJ-TV-1 became CBAT-1. Moncton CHMT-TV – CBAT-2. Chatham/Newcastle CHCN-TV – CBAT-3. Campbellton CHCR-TV – CBAT-4. Doaktown CHSJ-TV-2 – CBAT-5. Boisetown CHSJ-TV-3 -CBAT-6. The Parker Ridge transmitter was eliminated. The Commission also approved the sale of New Brunswick Broadcasting Co. Ltd.’s MITV network to CanWest Maritime Television Inc. In order to facilitate the CBC acquisition, an agreement was entered into between the CBC and CanWest Maritime, whereby all but $1,000,000 of the $10,500,000 purchase price would be advanced to the CBC by CanWest. In exchange for $9,500,000, the CBC will turn over to CanWest all of the selective advertising inventory of the new undertaking for a period of 12.5 years. CanWest Maritime will sell that air-time and retain the revenues generated. The Commission notes that all network advertising time is excluded from this agreement. CanWest Maritime will pay an annual administration fee to the CBC to cover the expenses required to air the selective advertising.

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