CBC cuts affiliate ties with northwestern B.C. TV station

CFTK-TV is broadcasting CTV2 programming as of Feb. 22

  • Tue Feb 23rd, 2016 4:00pm
  • News

Goodbye Peter Mansbridge, Don Cherry and Murdoch Mysteries.

Hello Ellen Degeneres and Jimmy Fallon.

CFTK-TV ended an affiliation of close to 55 years on Feb. 22 with the CBC public broadcaster and is now showing programs from CTV which is owned by its parent, Bell Media.

The programming switch follows a long-standing decision by the CBC to end its affiliations with smaller TV stations who were also providing the signal over the air.

“They are no longer viable given the very small number of people who view TV over the air,” said CBC official Chuck Thompson of affiliate agreements which give TV stations the right to carry a network’s programming.

CBC now has over-the-air digital TV services only in cities with CBC TV stations that produce local programming.

He added that CFTK was just one of two surviving TV affiliates, with the other being in Dawson Creek.

“CBC continues to see digital as the way forward and much of our programming is already available online to anyone with an internet connection,” Thompson continued.

CFTK-TV general manager Mel Kemmis said having Bell Media as an owner of the CTV made the search for new programming relatively easy.

“In this case we’re going to be carrying CTV2 programming,” said Kemmis of one of two networks carrying the CTV programming.

“We’ve had a great affiliation with CBC and we’ve loved it but it was really their decision,” he said of the programming change.

Viewers, however, will still be watching local news weeknights at 6 p.m., Kemmis added.

With CFTK no longer being a CBC affiliate, the national television regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has stepped in, stating that the regional cable TV provider, CityWest, must provide a CBC signal as part of its basic cable package.

In this case that is CBC Vancouver, says CityWest official Donovan Dias.

“Since it needs to be in basic analog and digital, we had to pick a channel number that would be accessed on both [analog and digital] systems – in this case, channel 61,” said Dias.

CBC Vancouver had been channel 176 and the move to channel 61 was made on Feb. 22 as well.

The CBC’s affiliation with CFTK dates back to 1962 when it went on the air in Prince Rupert and Terrace.

The station was owned by Skeena Broadcasters, a new company founded by Canadian broadcast pioneer J. Fred Weber which opened radio stations in the area in 1960.

CFTK was known then as the Tall Totem network and broadcast via transmitters fitted into protective plastic pipes and placed on mountain tops.

Those transmitters were run by generators refueled using helicopters.

In CFTK-TV’s earlier days, programming that wasn’t local was taped in Vancouver and flown up for rebroadcast.