CFCY-TV, Charlottetown

Island Radio Broadcasting Co. Ltd.

StationYearChannelNetwork AffiliateOwner/Info
CFCY-TV195613CBCIsland Radio Broadcasting Co. Ltd.


The Island Broadcasting Co. Ltd. (CFCY) applied for a television licence. It was deferred to allow applicant to provide further information. The application was heard and deferred again (channel 13 – 57,000 watts video and 27,000 watts audio – antenna height above average terrain of 866 feet).


The CBC Board of Governors recommended for approval, an application by The Island Broadcasting Co. Ltd. (CFCY Radio) for a new television station at Charlottetown. The station would operate on channel 13 with an effective radiated power of 21,000 watts video and 12,500 watts audio. A directional antenna would be used and tower height (EHAAT) would be 401 feet. CFCY-TV (not yet on the air) was granted an increase in effective radiated power from 21,000 watts video and 12,500 watts audio to 38,600 watts video and 19,300 watts audio, with an increase in antenna height from 401 to 711 feet (height above average terrain). A directional antenna would still be used.


CFCY – TV Channel 13 went on the air July 1, just a little more than two years after the death of CFCY Radio’s founder, Col. Keith Rogers. He had a dream of having a TV station for many years, and it was left to his daughter Betty, and her husband (and engineer) Bob Large to bring that dream to fruition. He was also manager of CFCY-AM. The studio, transmitter and tower were located some 12 miles west of Charlottetown on the Trans Canada Highway near Bonshaw.


CFCY-TV had an effective radiated power of 38,600 watts video and 19,300 watts audio. It was a CBC affiliate. Ownership of The Island Radio Broadcasting Co. Ltd.: Mrs. Flora Rogers 51.5%, Mrs. Margaret E. Large 13.6%, Mrs. Marianne G. Morrow 13.6% and William K. Rogers 21.3%. Mrs. K. S. Rogers was president of the company. Robert F. Large was manager and commercial manager. Paul Williams was program director and traffic manager. William K. Rogers was music director. Margaret Large was promotions manager. At the end of the year, ERP was listed as 79,000 watts video and 38,500 watts audio.


The BBG turned down colour telecasting for now. There was mixed reaction to the decision. CFCY’s Bob Large said, “We have mixed feelings regarding the introduction of colored television in Canada…”.


Severe winters over the next few years at the location proved it to be impractical and the studios were moved into an addition on the back of the Radio station on Kent Street, in 1961.

Michael D. Mike Duffy
Mike Duffy

Typical of small TV stations across Canada, it was initially a one-camera operation for the first few years, but equipment was gradually updated.

Not so typical, was the development of talent that continued from CFCY’s radio days. Don Messer’s Islanders moved from radio to television at CFCY before being “discovered” by CBC when Don, Marg Osborne and Charlie Chamberlain became household names across Canada. Mike Duffy, the now celebrated political mmentator, started at CFCY-TV with a Saturday afternoon teen dance party, just because he had the best collection of records in town.


CFCY-TV had an effective radiated power of 38,600 watts video and 19,300 watts audio and operated rebroadcast transmitter CFCY-TV-1 (channel 7) at New Glasgow, Nova Scotia


Network color transmission came along with the rest of the industry.


CFCY-TV was to be sold to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, following months of negotiations. CFCY said there were insufficient commercial revenues available to enable it to survive competition with a CTV rebroadcaster proposed by CJCH-TV (Halifax). CFCY-TV was a CBC affiliate and broadcast on channel 13 with an effective radiated power of 38,600 watts video and 19,300 watts audio. The station also operated CFCY-TV-1 New Glasgow. Island Radio Broadcasting Co. Ltd. would keep CFCY Radio. The CBC closed on the purchase of CFCY-TV on August 1. Under the deal, former owner Island Broadcasting would continue to produce local programs for the next three years under CBC supervision. The call letters would change to CBCT. R. Gordon Smith would be CBC’s operations manager in Charlottetown. He had been program supervisor for CBI in Sydney, N.S. On September 15, television viewers in the Maritimes and Newfoundland began seeing CBC network programs an hour earlier. Because of time zone differences these viewers had long been seeing programs at a later hour than other parts of the country. The network was now showing its programs at local times, corresponding whenever possible, to scheduling elsewhere in Canada. The change was thanks to video tape recording equipment for television, with instant replay for programs – colour and black & white. The CBC Halifax video tape centre was the key point for the operation with microwave facilities being used during the night hours to feed programs from Toronto for showing the following day. The national newscast produced live in Toronto for transmission directly via closed circuit microwave to Halifax for viewers in the Maritimes and Newfoundland who would now see it at 11 p.m. Atlantic Time and 11:30 Newfoundland Time. A second edition of the newscast was then transmitted an hour later (11 p.m. Eastern Time) for viewing in Central Canada.


Television was moving into a new era across the country. The new CTV Network was expanding and CBC wished to have their own station in each province. After much soul searching it was decided that Charlottetown and P.E.I. could not support two television stations, and CFCY-TV was sold to the CBC to become CBCT-TV.   On June 13, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was authorized to purchase CFCY-TV Charlottetown and CFCY-TV-1 New Glasgow (NS) from The Island Radio Broadcasting Co. Ltd. CFCY-TV became CBCT-TV.

See CBCT-DT Charlottetown for more history.

The story continues elsewhere…
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