On October 8, 1954, Alberta’s first television station, CICT-DT, which was called CHCT-TV, began operations. Being a part of the Global Television Network, this station is based in Calgary, with digital and virtual channels. Until August 29, 2022, it served as the main control center for fifteen Canadian stations, writes calgary-future.
Creating a station
In 1953, Calgary Mayor Don H. McKay announced that he would lead a city interest group that would seek a license for the province’s first television station. Afterward, the group led by him submitted an application to the Department of Transport. It was a joint application of three radio stations. After much deliberation, Canada’s English-language television network CBC agreed to grant the license. Bert Kearns, manager of the CFAC radio station, was chosen as the head of CHCT-TV.
The newly created television station became a branch of CBC Television. The station’s offices, studios and transmitter were located on a hill 7 miles outside of Calgary. Curiously, during the construction of the 600-foot tower that transmits the signal, a 5-ton antenna was raised to its top. The cable snapped and the antenna fell, plunging nearly 15 feet into the ground. Fortunately, no one was injured and the antenna was repaired, although this also caused a 10-day delay in the opening of the station.
First broadcasts and programs
The first program CHCT-TV aired was a CBC newscast, followed by an instructional video on how to build a winter shed. The next day, the station aired a football game, after which the Calgary Herald criticized the broadcast for not following the ball closely enough.
The following year, CHCT-TV moved its offices and studios to the hall where the sea cadets trained. The premises were renovated, and then they began to create various shows, for example, culinary shows enjoyed popularity. Station manager Herb Stewart estimated that in 1955 at least 22 hours of air time were allocated to local shows each week.
CHCT-TV aired weekdays at 4:30 p.m., Saturdays at 5:00 a.m., and Sundays at 1:30 p.m. The station worked until midnight every day. News was broadcast on all days except Sunday.
Multiple name changes and separation from CBC
Since 1957, the station has been owned by Selkirk Communications, which also owned CFAC radio. Later the name of the TV station changed to CFAC-TV. In September 1975, when the CBC launched its own station in Calgary, CFAC-TV separated from the CBC and became an independent station.
In 1960, another television station called CFCN-TV was launched in Calgary, it was the first independent television station in Canada. In order to compete for viewers’ attention, CFAC-TV began spreading its advertising in print media to remind viewers and advertisers that it was the first in Calgary to broadcast all the important events.
In 1981, CFAC-TV moved to the $5 million Calgary Television Centre. The building had three large studios, each of which had two television cameras. The station also received television rights to the franchise of the Calgary Flames hockey club. In the autumn of 1982, the only station in Calgary began broadcasting around the clock. Movies or reruns of daytime shows were usually shown at night. The reporter was Steve Lego, the photographer was Rick Copley, the sportscaster was Ed Whalen, the news anchor was Steve Abrams, and the news producer was Ted Arnold.
Although the station remained independent from the CBC, in 1988 it began to broadcast some programs of that network. In 1989, CFAC-TV was sold to Western International Communications (WIC), and a year later the new owner changed the station’s name to CKKX-TV. Jim Bagshaw became the general director. Until 1993, the main airwaves were occupied by news, for broadcasting news they even bought a truck with satellite communication and in this way made a mobile TV station.
In September 1993, the station changed its name again to CICT-TV. The cable channel of the station itself was called Calgary 7. In 1992-1993, the famous Canadian-American journalist Ashleigh Banfield worked as a producer of the station, and after that she was an evening news anchor and correspondent for two more years.
In 1995, changes were made to the CICT-TV license. In particular, since then the licensee had the right to broadcast more than 12 minutes of advertising material at any hour every day. In 1996, CICT-TV laid off 30 employees, reducing its staff to 129 employees. According to station president Jim Bagshaw, this was due to a review of the way the business was run, not financial difficulties.
In 1998, The Inside Story from the Calgary Herald program was launched, which aired weekdays at 5:30 p.m. The editorial staff of the Calgary Herald did a daily report on the station’s channel. CICT-TV broadcast programs for various segments of the population, as well as advertising campaigns and telethons. Over time, children’s programs such as Kidstreet and Monty’s Traveling Reptile Show began to be prepared.
Joining the Global Television Network
In 2001, CICT-TV joined the Global Television Network. It is a Canadian English-language terrestrial television network owned by Corus Entertainment, the holding company of James Robert Shaw and members of his family. It began its activities with the regional television station of the same name, which served Southern Ontario since 1974. The station then gradually expanded its national reach through the purchase and launch of new stations, thus creating a network of independent stations.
In the same 2001, CICT-TV began broadcasting in the towns of Drumheller and Banff. In 2009, the Canadian media company Harvard Broadcasting built its tower on the site of the CICT-TV tower to accommodate a new FM antenna. After construction was completed, Harvard Broadcasting installed a new antenna for CICT-TV on the tower.
The beginning of digital broadcasting
On August 31, 2001, almost all analog television broadcasting in Canada ceased to exist. At that time, most Canadian television stations switched from analog to digital broadcasting. On this day, the CICT-TV channel was closed. Since then, the station has operated as a CICT-DT channel.
In August 2012, the station increased its weekday morning newscast to 4 hours, and in September of the same year, the Sunday morning newscast was increased to 3 hours. At the same time, there were big changes in the team.
The global television network that owns the station is located downtown in a building with rooftop terraces and a fitness center for employees. In addition, the network began to use ecological construction concepts in order to reduce the negative impact on the environment.
Generally, CICT-TV is remembered by Calgarians as the first station in the city to televise football, hockey, world-famous wagon racing, skiing in the Rocky Mountains and many other exciting entertainment to watch.
It was also the first television station in Calgary to use a helicopter for news gathering. On April 11, 2007, with the help of a helicopter, the station began to create morning reports on the traffic of the city. Then the helicopter was also used to cover emergency news. In addition, the station was the first in Calgary and the second in Alberta to begin broadcasting its newscasts in high definition at the time.