|CKNX-TV||1993||8||Independent||Baton Broadcasting Inc.|
Channel 8 had been assigned for use at Owen Sound. W. T. “Doc” Cruickshank
owner of CKNX-AM in Wingham, wanted to have a small television station in his community and proposed to move channel 8 to his town. He had to move fast though. The National Broadcasting Co. in the U. S. had applied to the American broadcast regulator for the use of channel 8 for its proposed station at Buffalo, N.Y. By international agreement, Canada and the United States had agreed that there must be a spacing of 171 miles between stations operating on the same channel. If NBC got channel 8 in Buffalo, Doc would be out of luck for the use of that channel at Wingham, and perhaps not have a chance of getting a TV station at all. He went to Ottawa and the regulator promised him channel 8. He was told however that he would have to invest a lot more money for a more powerful signal than what he was proposing. In the end, he got Ottawa’s approval. The new station would broadcast with an effective radiated power of 20,000 watts video and 12,000 watts audio. Antenna height (above average terrain) would be 793 feet and a directional antenna would be used. The application was first approved by the CBC Board of Governors and then by the Department of Transport.
The RCA transmitter alone would cost $223,000. Doc had originally planned to spend $125,000 in total on a lower powered TV station. The supplier assisted him financially on the 650 foot tower. That was worth $100,000. The CKNX Radio staff also gave him full backing on the new venture. CKNX was the 19th television operation in Canada to select RCA equipment: a 2 kilowatt TT-2AH transmitter, Vidcom film cameras, sound-and-picture microwave and a 12-slot Wavestack antenna.
When Doc Cruickshank established ham station 10-BP (now CKNX-AM), it operated from the Brunswick Hotel. With CKNX Television soon to sign on, a larger home was needed for the combined radio and television operation. Wingham town council held a special meeting and decided to co-operate with Cruickshank by selling him and old high school building for a dollar.
From a print ad just before the station went on the air: CKNX Television…double barrel sales power in Canada’s number one farm market this fall!
It usually takes at least a year to go from the planning stage to getting a new station on the air. Doc had CKNX-TV up and running within three months. It was 6:00 p.m., November 18 that channel 8 began broadcasting from Wingham – “the smallest community in the world with its own television station”. Wingham only had some 3,000 residents. CKNX-TV served a market made up of five agriculturally oriented counties in mid-western Ontario. The sign-on program was called “Focus”, 60 minutes of news, sports, weather and farm news, along with a Musical combo and an emcee. The program schedule, produced from two studios with one camera, consisted of 30 hours of live production weekly. Other studio productions included: a daily hour-long women’s show, featuring cooking demonstrations, interviews and musical entertainment. The hostess was Marg Brophy, the show was called “M’Lady”; two country and western shows weekly, “Circle 8 Ranch” and “Western Roundup”. The emcees were Johnny Brent and Ernie King; Two Sunday religious half-hour shows, “Sing Time”, sponsored by the United Church, and “Springs of Living Water” sponsored by the Baptist Church; a weekly half hour “Great Outdoors” for the camper and sportsman with emcee Ernie King.
Doc Cruickshank had expected to lose $30,000 in the first year of operation for the TV station. Instead, just after five months on the air, CKNX-TV had almost broken even.
Bud Cruickshank was Station Manager and Scott Reid was Chief Engineer. Kay Stevenson came on board as Promotion Director. She had been a CBC producer for the past 15 years.
For the record, NBC ended up with channel 17 in Buffalo. It operated WBUF-TV between 1956 and 1958. In 1959, channel 17 returned to the air as WNED-TV. WGR-TV (channel 2) became the NBC affiliate in the market.
CKNX-TV joined the American network CBS as a secondary affiliate.
CKNX-TV Channel 8 had an effective radiated power of 20,000 watts video and 12,000 watts audio and was a CBC affiliate. It was owned by Radio Station CKNX Limited (W. T. Cruickshank 87.6%, G. W. Cruickshank 4.1%, J. J. Cruickshank 4.1% and Mrs. L. McCall 4.2%). W. T. Cruickshank was president of the company and manager. G. W. Cruickshank was operations manager. C. R. Hamilton was commercial manager. D. G. Hildebrand was production and program director. John Strong was news director and Scott Reid was director of engineering. Effective radiated power was listed at the end of the year as 38,000 watts video and 19,500 watts audio. Vin Dittmer was in Sales and talks about those early days. Wingham was known as “The world’s tiniest town with TV”.
Ad slogan: For double impact in Western Ontario use CKNX Television and Radio – the Ontario Farm Stations. The CBC Board of Governors approved an application by CKNX-TV to increase effective radiated power from 20,000 watts video and 12,000 watts audio to 90,000 watts video and 55,000 watts audio. The board said the increase would improve television service to the area. R.W. (Bob) Carbert, CKNX-Radio-TV farm director, left for the Canadian Federation of Agriculture.
Don Hildebrand left CKNX-TV for Inter-City Broadcasting Corp. Ltd., an applicant for a new television station in Ottawa. The applicant was unsuccessful and the licence was awarded to Ernie Bushnell (CJOH-TV). Bruce St. George was appointed director of operations for CKNX-AM and TV. The BBG turned down colour telecasting for now. There was mixed reaction to the decision. CKNX’s Doc Cruickshank said, “We are very much in favour of the CBC introducing colour television in Canada just as soon as possible”.
In the early morning of March 8, the former high school building that housed CKNX Radio and Television burned to the ground, and nothing was saved. However, with the help of neighboring stations in London, Barrie, Kitchener and Toronto, CKNX-TV was back on the air the same night, and showed pictures of the fire, projected on a white sheet. From various locations in Wingham and from the patched-up shell of the burned-out studio, CKNX operations continued without a hitch. Just over a year later, now equipped with two cameras and all new equipment, CKNX-TV moved into a new modern building, and held a week- long open house to which more than 10,000 people came from all over western Ontario.
CKNX-TV now had an effective radiated power of 90,000 watts video and 55,000 watts audio.
John Strong was news director. Ric Wellwood did news.
David Burgess left CKNX Radio-TV after 10 years to work in the U.S. He had been a studio engineer.
On July 3, the CRTC approved the transfer of 12,600 preferred shares of capitol stock in Wingham Investments Ltd., a shareholder in Radio Station CKNX Ltd., from W.T. Cruickshank to G.W. Cruickshank. John Cruickshank was assistant manager and commercial manager. Dave Curzon headed the farm department.
Jerry Chomyn joined CKNX-AM-TV as a reporter and anchor. Ad: If you plan to advertise in Belfast, Brussels, Carthage, Ceylon, Damascus, Dublin, Dunedin, Gibralter, Hanover, Kimberly, Lebanon, Lucknow, Tralee, Southampton, Zurich – use CKNX Radio-Television Wingham. We reach them all (and more) in Ontario’s farming heartland.
“Doc” Cruickshank died on February 28, a day before a deal to sell CKNX-AM and TV to the London Free Press of London, Ontario, was to close. Wingham Investments Ltd. sold the stations to the London Free Press Holdings Ltd. The company was controlled by the Blackburn family. CKNX-TV was having trouble attracting selective time to attract national accounts. Combined with CFPL-TV, this hopefully would be more possible. The London Free Press also promised to air some French language programs on CKNX-TV from the CBC as it has done on CFPL-TV London. Murray Brown of London was President of CFPL Broadcasting Ltd. and CKNX Broadcasting Ltd. (new corporate name for Wingham), and the General Manager for CKNX-AM-TV was now long time staff member Ross Hamilton. He had been CKNX-TV’s sales manager.
Until the early part of the year, CKNX-TV was still using black-and-white 16mm film for its newsgathering. Instead of switching to electronic newsgathering (ENG) as many stations across North America had done by that point, CKNX opted to use Super-8 colour film. It was decided ENG would be cost prohibitive for CKNX at that time because unlike most stations, its reporters were stationed at bureaus spread out throughout the station’s coverage area rather than all at the main station, and adopting ENG would require every bureau to have ENG facilities added.
CKNX-FM signed on the air. Space had to be created in the existing building for the new FM operation. To make room for new studios, record library and office space, CKNX-FM got some of CKNX-TV’s storage area.
CKNX-TV installed a new GE Model TTC 16,000 FH 16 kw transmitter. It replaced a 25 year old RCA unit which would now be used for standby purposes. The STL unit was also replaced and a 300 square foot addition to the transmitter building was built. Chief engineer Scott Reid reported the new transmitter provided a slight increase in power, extending the CKNX-TV contour radius by about three miles. Jerry Chomyn became program director for CKNX-AM-FM. He had been a sales rep with CKNX-TV.
Ross Hamilton was promoted to vice president and general manager of CKNX-AM-FM-TV.
Murray T. Brown retired as president of the broadcasting divisions of London Free Press Holdings Ltd. He would remain as a company director. C. Ross Hamilton became president of CKNX-AM-FM-TV. Walter J. Blackburn died December 16. Control of the company passed to his daughter, Martha.
On May 22, a rebroadcast transmitter for CKNX-TV at Wiarton was approved. It would be owned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation but broadcast CKNX programming, including network shows carried on the station. The new transmitter would operate on channel 20 with an effective radiated video power of 125,000 watts. London Free Press Holdings Ltd. and its subsidiary CKNX Broadcasting Ltd., merged into The Blackburn Group, Inc.
W.T. ‘Doc’ Cruikshank, founder of CKNX-AM-TV, was posthumously appointed to the C.A.B. Broadcast Hall of Fame and to the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame.
Ray Baynton was news director for CKNX-TV and Radio.
C. Ross Hamilton retired September 1. He had been president of CKNX Broadcasting Ltd. He was replaced by Robert Elsden who is also president of co-owned CFPL-TV in London. A. N. (Al) Skelton, former manager of CKNX-TV, was appointed vice-president and general manager, responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company. CFPL-TV and CKNX-TV ceased to be affiliates of the CBC Network, and became independent stations.
Ted Eadinger was appointed vice president of television for Blackburn Communications Systems.
In early May, Martha Blackburn, chair of the Blackburn Group Inc. announced the sale of CFPL-TV and CKNX-TV to Baton Broadcasting Inc. The purchase of the Blackburn stations would strengthen Baton in Ontario where it had been operating a provincial network with CKCO-TV Kitchener for 18 months. “ONT” broadcast 10.5 hours of programming a week, including Blue Jays baseball. Baton planned to boost that schedule to 17 hours a week in the fall, increasing to 35 hours over the next couple of years. The proposal to buy CFPL/CKNX would put CKCO out of the ONT network. Martha Blackburn-Hughes, 47, died suddenly on August 15. She was the daughter of the late Walter J. Blackburn and became head of the company following his death. Despite the death of Blackburn, the proposed sale of CFPL/CKNX to Baton was to proceed. The future of the London Free Press newspaper and CFPL / CKNX radio stations was up in the air. In addition to making its application to acquire the Blackburn TV stations, South Western Ontario Broadcasting (Baton) also applied for a rebroadcast transmitter at Wheatley to rebroadcast CFPL-TV. Some programs would be produced specifically for the Chatham-Windsor area. This application was contingent on the approval of Baton’s acquisition of CFPL-TV and CKNX-TV. Until the end of August, CKNX-TV still produced newscasts live out of the Wingham studios. Some 26 employees were laid off, making CKNX-TV nothing more than a news bureau. News and weather inserts for the Wingham region would now come out of CFPL-TV London. Master control was shut down in Wingham. The Family Farmer program had been produced by CKNX-TV until this time. As of September, it too came out of the London studios. Because of some separate programming items (originating in London), CKNX-TV still held a separate licence, but was essentially now a repeater of CFPL-TV. A new transmitter was purchased and installed at the time of the layoffs. Fully automated, the transmitter site was no longer manned.
On September 1, CFTO-TV Ltd., Nation’s Capital Television Inc. (CHRO-TV Pembroke), South West Ontario Broadcasting Inc. (CFPL-TV London & CKNX-TV Wingham) and Mid-Canada Communications (Canada) Corp. (CKSO-TV Sudbury, CJIV-TV Sault Ste. Marie and CFCL-TV Timmins – and all CTV affiliates and their “Twin Stick” CBC re-broadcasters) amalgamated to become BBS Ontario Inc. a division of Baton Broadcasting Inc.
On March 24, the CRTC renewed the licences for CFPL-TV, CKNX-TV and CHWI-TV to August 31, 2002. The Commission expected the licensee to adhere to the commitments made in its licence renewal applications to broadcast a minimum weekly average of 17 hours original, or first play, local news programming on CFPL-TV, 5 hours and 40 minutes on CKNX-TV and 10 hours on CHWI-TV during the new licence term. The Commission commended the licensee for its performance in the areas of “one time” specials, documentary and Town Hall specials and drama productions. In this regard, it was noted that the station met or exceeded its commitments regarding locally-produced drama in each year of the past licence term and in year 5, almost tripled its commitments through its involvement in 13 hours of “The Red Green Show”.
In September, it was announced that Baton & Electrohome (CKCO-TV Kitchener & CFRN-TV Edmonton) would merge, subject to CRTC approval. This would give Baton 42.9% of CTV Television Network Ltd. Electrohome’s share of CTV was 14.3%.
On February 25, the Baton-Electrohome alliance announced a deal with CHUM Ltd., involving the swapping of some TV stations, to give Baton control of CTV. Baton would get CHUM’s 14.3% interest in CTV. Baton would swap CFPL-TV London, CKNX-TV Wingham, CHWI-TV Wheatley and CHRO-TV Pembroke/Ottawa for CHUM’s Atlantic Television Network (ATV) – (CJCH-TV Halifax, CJCB-TV Sydney, CKCW-TV Moncton/Charlottetown and CKLT-TV Saint John/Fredericton). ATV was a CTV affiliate. Baton also gets CHUM’s Atlantic Satellite Network. On approval, Baton would have 57% of CTV. The next largest shareholder is Western International Communications with 28.6%. The CRTC approved this application and the one involving Baton and Electrohome on August 28, 1997. After eight years on the air, “Family Farmer” and host/producer Kevin Stewart were dropped by CKNX-TV.
Gerry Belanger, director of engineering at CKNX, died at 58 after a lengthy illness. Belanger had been with CKNX radio and television for more than 35 years. On September 8, CKNX-TV Wingham, CFPL-TV London, and CHWI-TV Windsor became The New NX, The New PL, The New WI. On that evening, The New PL launched it’s open concept million dollar newsroom/studio with anchors Kate Young and George Clark. The CKNX-TV studios were re-designed and dedicated to providing news coverage of the area for broadcast in conjunction with its carriage of CFPL-TV’s dinner-hour newscast. A fleet of 22 bright new green, red, or blue (depending on the market) news trucks took to the streets. The new station ID’s followed a similar move at CKVR-TV Barrie which changed to its The New VR status a few years earlier.
In March 2005 CHUM announced that in the Fall, CKNX-TV would be one of six CHUM owned stations to be re-branded as A-Channel stations, to facilitate cross-promotional opportunities. On August 2, The New NX was re-branded as A Channel (Wingham). Allan Waters, the founder of CHUM Limited, owner of A-Channel Wingham, 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 CKNX-TV, 21 specialty channels and some 33 radio stations.
CTV decided to rebrand the “A Channel” stations as “A”. The transition began in June with newscasts (ie: “A News”). The change to “A” officially took place at 6:00 p.m., August 11.
On February 25, CTV Inc. announced that, given the ongoing structural problems facing the conventional television sector in Canada and the current global economic crisis, it would not be applying for renewal of the CKNX-TV Wingham and CHWI-TV Wheatley licences (and its rebroadcaster in Windsor). CTV said as a result of today’s announcement, Wingham and Windsor would no longer be provided with their own distinctive local programming. News related to the broader Southwestern Ontario region would be provided through CFPL-TV London. The CKNX-TV and CHWI-TV licences would expire at the end of August. On March 3, CTV confirmed further steps in its on-going efforts to address the grave financial reality facing its conventional ‘A’ stations by announcing the restructuring of its local program operations and significant staff layoffs. Effective immediately, ‘A’ Morning, the three-hour local morning show produced separately in Victoria, London and Barrie, would be cancelled. In Ottawa, the evening, late night and weekend newscasts would be cancelled. A total of 118 positions were eliminated at ‘A’ stations in Victoria, London, Barrie and Ottawa, representing approximately 28% of the ‘A’ stations’ overall staff count. On April 27th the CRTC began hearings to consider CTVglobemedia’s applications for various OTA licence renewals, 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 CKNX-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 to buy CKNX Wingham 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 CKNX-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 would include CKNX-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..”. In September, CKNX-TV, after 54 years of local service, ceased broadcasting local programming, and became a rebroadcaster of CFPL-TV London.
On August 13, the CRTC approved the application by CTV Corp. for authority to acquire from CTV Limited, as part of a corporate reorganization, the assets of the English-language television programming undertakings CIVI-TV Victoria and its transmitter CIVI-TV-2 Vancouver, CFPL-TV London and its transmitter CKNX-TV Wingham, CHRO-TV Pembroke, CHRO-TV-43 Ottawa, CHWI-TV Wheatley and its transmitter CHWI-TV-60 Windsor, as well as CKVR-TV Barrie and its transmitter CKVR-TV-1 Parry Sound. CTV Corp. was a wholly owned subsidiary of CTV Limited. The latter was a wholly owned subsidiary of CTV Inc., which in turn was wholly owned by CTVglobemedia Inc. (CTVgm). This transaction would be effected through the transfer of the assets of the above-mentioned undertakings from CTV Limited to CTV Corp. As a result of the transaction, CTV Corp. would become the licensee of the undertakings. The applicant stated that this transaction served administrative and tax planning purposes. The Commission noted that the transaction would not affect the ultimate control of the undertakings, which would continue to be exercised by CTVgm. On March 15, CTV Inc., CTV Corp., CTV Limited and CTVglobemedia Inc. amalgamated to continue as CTV Inc. 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 CRTC noted that it did 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. BCE Inc. announced on April 1 that it had completed its acquisition of CTV and that it had launched Bell Media (replacing CTVglobemedia), a new business unit that would make CTV programs and other Bell content available on smartphones and computers as well as traditional television. In addition to CTV and its television stations, Bell Media now also operated 29 specialty channels, 33 radio stations, Dome Productions, a mobile broadcast facilities provider, and dozens of high-traffic news, sports and entertainment websites, including the Sympatico.ca portal.
CKNX-TV was now operating as a transmitter for CFPL-TV London.
On August 29, the /A\ stations were re-branded as CTV Two.
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.