In the Spring of 2000, the Global Television Network made application to acquire the station, one of eight conventional television stations owned by WIC Western International Communications Ltd. On July 6, 2000, the CRTC announced its approval of CanWest Global's bid. This announcement allowed CanWest Global Communications Corp., an international media company, to fill the remaining gaps in its national Canadian network.
CanWest, now Canada's largest publisher of daily newspapers owns, operates and/or holds substantial interests in newspapers, conventional television, out-of-home advertising, specialty cable channels, and radio networks in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland and the United Kingdom. The Company's program production and distribution division and interactive media division operate in several countries throughout the world.
Projecting a distinct character, reflecting local concerns and interests of Hamilton/Halton/Niagara, CH returns home where it will boldly move forward drawing from its rich history as a powerhouse among broadcasters.
Through the vision and determination of its founder, pioneer broadcaster Kenneth D. Soble, CHCH began transmitting to the public on June 7, 1954, at 8:00 p.m., as a privately owned affiliate of the CBC Network. In October, 1961, CHCH disaffiliated from the Network to become Canada's first, English-language, independent television station to transmit over 45,000 watts.
Throughout its almost forty-seven year history, the station has informed, entertained, analyzed, united its viewers and reflected society. It never waited for challenging opportunities to present themselves, but has continually sought and created them.
CHCH was among the first, if not "the first", Canadian television station to present: talk and entertainment programming in prime time, five nights a week; a live, prime time western/folk music show (Jamboree with Gordie Tapp); to bring school dances into a TV studio (Dance Party - featuring one of the first TV appearances by Gordon Lightfoot); to introduce information-quiz shows; to initiate Canadian co-productions with outside producers; to introduce late night "live" Canadian talent to replace recorded music over- test-pattern; to send a crew outside the country to cover the tour of the Prime Minister; to set up an Ottawa Bureau for immediate capital city coverage; to maintain a provincial Capital News Bureau; and to telecast a political "Open Forum" Rally.
In the early years, CHCH earned the reputation, "The Movie Station." Before its 25th birthday, the station had broadcast over sixty million feet of film. Following are several movie highlights:
on June 7, 1954, CHCH presented its first movie, the suspense thriller Guilty Bystander starring Zachary Scott
in 1964 CHCH presented its first of many world television premiere movies with the controversial, Two Women, starring Sophia Loren
on September 4, 1965, CHCH ran its first, full-length colour feature film, The Horse Soldiers, starring John Wayne
in 1974 CHCH was first in the world with the television premiere of The Godfather
it was the first Canadian broadcaster to establish Event Television with such mini-series as Rich Man Poor Man (1976) and The Immigrants.
CHCH introduced many long-running television hits to the Toronto market -- popular programmes like All in The Family, Knots Landing, Perfect Strangers, L.A. Law, Entertainment Tonight, Hill Street Blues, Sisters, 48 Hours, and PrimeTime Live.
CHCH continued to be a leader in supporting Canadian talent, as well as Canadian programming projects. Highlights include: The Don Messer Jubilee, The Pierre Berton Show, Fred Davis' Under Attack, The Palace Entertainment and Variety Series, The Leafs on Eleven, Tiny Talent Time, Beverly Cleary's Children's series Ramona, Smith and Smith, The Comedy Mill, The Red Green Show, Second City Live, and over 25 made-for-television Canadian movies.
On July 21, 1992, CHCH developed a new frontier in the communications industry, bringing about a genuine cooperation between the community, its law enforcement agencies, and television broadcasters through the interactive television event, The Abduction Of Kristen French.
On March 18, 1994, in response to a nation's devastation over the death of one of its treasures, comedian John Candy, CHCH broadcast, live, Remembering John, a special memorial service arranged by The Second City. The uncommon telecast was transmitted via satellite to eight stations across Canada.
Sports coverage is another area in which CHCH excelled. The Fall of 1954, marked the start of twenty years of OHA Hockey broadcasts from the Hamilton Forum. Live coverage of daily horse races from the Ontario Jockey Club were on the schedule, as were sporting events such as football, gymnastics, lacrosse, snooker, tennis, and championship bowling. The University Games of The Week and Curling Bonspiels continue to this day.
Historically, CHCH has always taken an active interest in its community. During the early 1960s, CHCH regularly scheduled University Extension Courses, in cooperation with McMaster University. It programmed to specialty audiences with such productions as Ein Prosit and Italian Panorama. Politics came under scrutiny with the popular show Full Circle.
On February 17, 1997, at 6:00 p.m., CHCH celebrated a pivotal juncture in its, then, 43 year history. On that date, the station changed its on-air identification from CHCH-TV to officially become ONtv. The name change reflected the station's growth and repositioning strategy within the Ontario market.
ONtv's expanded coverage undertaking was approved by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) on August 28, 1996, when the Commission gave its approval for this broadcaster to establish rebroadcast transmitters in seven Ontario markets: Ottawa, Muskoka District, North Bay, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins and London. With its expanded Ontario coverage, the station now reaches 90% of the province's population.
On May 17, 1999, at 6:00 p.m., CH made history, again, by becoming the nation's first television station to produce a complete, live newscast in an all-virtual environment.
From January 1993 to July 6, 2000, WIC Western International Communications Ltd., a leading Canadian broadcast, communications and entertainment company with its head office in Vancouver, British Columbia, had been the station's owner of record. Previous owners included a local consortium consisting of Maple Leaf Broadcasting, Wentworth Broadcasting and Southam Press (1954); Theatre Properties Hamilton Ltd., which joined the consortium in 1969; Selkirk Communications Ltd. (1970); and Maclean Hunter Ltd. (1989).
The station has been recognized nationally and internationally for its accomplishments in the industry. CH has also been honoured by numerous community associations with plaques, trophies, awards and citations for its active participation in those organizations.
However, CH's remarkable history could not have come about without the many people, on-air and behind-the-scenes, who have devoted their talents, time and spirit to the station and its viewers. In 1954, approximately 71 employees -- equipped with three monochrome studio cameras, two film cameras and enthusiasm -- strove to be the best. In the year 2001, 179 employees, with facilities that include a state-of-the-art virtual news set; two ENG microwave mobiles, fully equipped for "live" news coverage throughout Southern Ontario; two production studios; plus several complete edit suites and a post-audio facility, work toward the same goal.