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As of fall 2007, CH re-brands as E! Canada.
Above and left: Screenshots from the E!
Right: E! logo
CJNT-TV has the an unusual nature of being the only multilingual affiliate of the English language E! Canada television network.
Even though CJNT is required to carry 60% ethnic content, CanWest Global figures that there are enough American shows to merit the E! brand name, also used by CanWest’s CHCH-TV in Hamilton, CHEK-TV in Victoria, B.C., CHCA-TV Red Deer, Alberta and CHBC-TV Kelowna, B.C.
CJNT Montreal's schedule consists of approximately 50% American content during prime time (shows that also air on the rest of the semi-national E! Canada network). The other 50% consists of ethnic content. Overall the station's content is 60% ethnic and 40% non-ethnic English and French programming. The French shows are scheduled in the daytime as they promised not to air any French programming during prime time. CJNT broadcasts on cable 14 and UHF 62, although the over the air signal is quite poor. CJNT is also on Bell ExpressVu at channel 209 on the Nimiq2 satellite.
E! Canada’s network schedule consists of a mix of programming from the U.S. version of E! and programming from the major U.S. network, the latter of which tends to dominate the prime-time portion of the schedule. Of course this means actual E! cable programming from the U.S. tends to be somewhat scarce on CJNT. On the other hand, they do carry THS and E! countdowns in a wide array of languages including Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. But if your communication skills are limited to Canada’s two official languages, then CJNT is at best a watered-down version of E! Canada, which itself is a watered down version of E! USA.
The good news it that it is good to finally see a network going back to using local call letters for its community programming (on CJNT) and local news (on the rest of E! in Canada). Could this be the beginning of a reverse trend?
CJNT is part of the time-shifting package for Rogers Digital subscribers in Ontario (Channel 254). And unlike illico, Rogers offers time-shifting at no additional charge. Just exactly how much "time-shifting" viewers will get out of E! in Montreal seems rather limited since Montreal and Ontario are in the same time zone.
Logos of the past
CH logo (2001-2008).
CJNT logo (1997-2001). Used until the switch to the CH brand.
Old TEQ logo. The local cable channel existed up until 1997.
CJNT has only been around since 1997, although you could argue that TEQ (la télévision ethnique du Québec, logo at right) was its predecessor long before that. TEQ used to be a cable TV channel on cable 24. Its format and style were like that of a community access channel, where just about anybody could become a star by producing their own show out their basement. The first time I had ever heard of a possible commercial-version of the ethnic channel was in 1993, when I was covering a story that had nothing to do with the media, but yet somehow brought me to the studios of CHCR radio, a Greek FM cable station. Inside, I heard CJNT's original president, Marie Griffiths talking about a brand new television channel for the ethnic community of Montreal. She then turned to a programming grid on the wall. There was something for every cultural group including an Oprah-style talk show at 4PM (Obviously she wasn’t yet familiar with the concept of counter-programming). The name of this station would be CTEQ. This was not an official set of call letters. You may have noticed that the second letter in a set of Canadian call letters is never higher than the letter K.
Unfortunately the new channel would be plagued with problems. For starters, the on air date was postponed because the new programs still looked as though they were being produced in someone’s basement. The station didn't go on air until September 1997, yet its license was approved for 1995. Some members of the ethnic community, who were promised a slot on the new channel were later told that they didn't meet the criteria of commercial TV. When the station finally did go on the air as CJNT (owned by a company called CTEQ), there were financial problems. They began to air late-night infomercials in English for a certain "psychic alliance" and this upset some people who saw this as a lack of commitment towards local ethnic content. CJNT would eventually be sold to CFCF which wanted to turn it into a "Rogers-style" ethnic channel, like CFMT Toronto, with only 60% local-ethnic content, mixed in with American shows (40%).
|Channel Info:||CJNT 62|
|Cable (West Montreal)||14|
|Cable (Central and East)||14|
But while this was happening, CFCF itself would experience a few changes, as its parent company, WIC would be bought out by CanWest Global (The funny thing about all this is that CFCF had bought CJNT in the hope that it would give them more leverage against Global). So CJNT sort of fell into Global’s lap and they made the station file for bankruptcy. The station was then purchased by a subdivision of CanWest Global, which was granted the right to modify its license. It was turned into a "Rogers-style" channel except that the 40% of non-ethnic programs is composed of both American and French language programs. The new format was launched September 8th 2001.
One thing missing from CJNT Montreal's line-up is English Canadian content, from outside Quebec. CH's Canadian shows such as Inside Entertainment, Stargate SG-1 and Jeremiah were almost never shown on the Montreal affiliate (although some of those shows had been squeezed on to Global Quebec's line-up). The reason for this appears to lie in the wording of the CRTC license, which doesn't specify how CH Montreal should divide its 50% Canadian content quota among the different communities it serves. As a result, Cancon on CH Montreal consists almost exclusively of ethnic and French programming, but not English. That way they can maximize the amount American content they carry and also take full advantage of simulcast-substitution possibilities. (The same principal applies to Omni Toronto)
CJNT Montreal devotes more airtime to local programming than any of the English locals: CFCF, CBMT or CKMI. (In fact, out of all Canadian channels on analog cable, CJNT arguably has the most local programming; if your definition of local doesn't include regional French programming available not just in Montreal but most of Quebec, and if you don't count cable-only services such Télé Immeubles... Yeah, I know. It's a bit of a stretch.)
Many of CJNT’s problems seem to have been money related. Perhaps ethnic television should have never been commercialized. Also, the ethnic community should have never been promised an "all local content-all the time" format. Few private broadcasters can keep such promises. The only ones who can are community-access channels. There’s an old expression that says "If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it."
CJNT has been involved in a war over Canadian commercials with Fox 44.
CJNT, E! & CH logos & jingles belong to CanWest Global. This page not affiliated with Global.
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