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September 8, 2020 10:14 am  #1


Happy Birthday CBLT

68 years ago today, Torontonians got their first local television station on ch 9. Probably few inhabitants owned a television set as the cost for a b/w set was in the $350-400 range. In fact, I remember seeing on a site somewhere of an Eaton's ad in the Toronto Star from Jan 1949 for a GE set with a monstrous 10 inch screen and 12 inch speaker. Only $749. Then the fine print. $100-150, depending on location for installation of an outdoor antenna to ensure dependable reception of WBEN ch 4. Almost $1000 in 1949 to receive one channel.

 

September 8, 2020 12:16 pm  #2


Re: Happy Birthday CBLT

Interestingly (well, it is to me, anyway!) a lot of the things surrounding CBLT all happened either in late August or early September. The sign-on became infamous when the I.D. slide, the very first thing put on TV by the CBC, was aired upside down. 

https://i.ibb.co/929rgq5/cblt1.jpg


According to this article, the CBC brass were all watching from the control room as the infamous faux pas went out across the city. 

Those first few years, CBLT was on Channel 9, before being moved over to Channel 6 in the fall of 1956. (Anyone remember listening to them on FM?)

https://i.ibb.co/YjHVgjP/CBLT-Moves-To-Channel-6-August-28-1956.jpg


Then, in early Sept. 1972, they jumped once again -  this time to their now familiar Channel 5.
 
I was into this stuff enough that I deliberately got up just before 6 AM to watch the sign-on. I’ve never run into anyone else who saw this (presumably because no one was foolish enough to get up that early just to watch a TV station begin on a new frequency), but it happened – they came on the air with their slide upside down for about a second or two, while an announcer intoned “This is CBLT Channel 5 in Toronto.” (with an emphasis on the “5”.)
 
The mistake was corrected within about three seconds or so, and I’ve always believed it was done deliberately as a homage to the original mistake two decades earlier.  

https://i.ibb.co/W5Ltvk1/CBLT-TV-Moves-To-Channel-5-TV-Guide-Ad-Sept-11-1972.jpg

 

September 8, 2020 12:42 pm  #3


Re: Happy Birthday CBLT

I don't remember the ch 9 era. My parents didn't get their first tv [an Emmerson] until 1957. I learned many years later, it was hot! And of course, CBLT moved again to ch 20. That makes four moves for one station. Wonder if that is a record of some kind.

     Thread Starter
 

September 8, 2020 1:08 pm  #4


Re: Happy Birthday CBLT

Interesting that Canadian TV stations don't seem to be required to announce their call letters around the top of the hour like Canadian radio stations do. I've often wondered why that's the case?


All the original greatest hits are right here!  http://www.classichitsonline.com
 

September 8, 2020 1:20 pm  #5


Re: Happy Birthday CBLT

With Larry Henderson and the News

 

September 8, 2020 5:42 pm  #6


Re: Happy Birthday CBLT

It seems like yesterday when we could only get a handful of channels - 2, 4, 7 from Buffalo, 6 and 9 from Toronto, 11 from Hamilton. Sometimes we got 13 from Kitchener, 12 from Peterborough or 3 from Barrie. Then 17 came along, then 29, then 79 and 19 (not sure of the order) and the dial slowly expanded. Now of course the selection is almost limitless.


"Life without echo is really no life at all." - Dan Ingram
 

September 8, 2020 6:45 pm  #7


Re: Happy Birthday CBLT

Dale Patterson wrote:

It seems like yesterday when we could only get a handful of channels - 2, 4, 7 from Buffalo, 6 and 9 from Toronto, 11 from Hamilton. Sometimes we got 13 from Kitchener, 12 from Peterborough or 3 from Barrie. Then 17 came along, then 29, then 79 and 19 (not sure of the order) and the dial slowly expanded. Now of course the selection is almost limitless.

Many parts of Canada had cable way before the US.  Our family signed up for cable in 1968 with a total of 12 channels all clear, sharp and a real improvement to what we were receiving with the antenna. 

Some people were just getting their first colour tv or would be in the next few years so the timing was perfect.  This  expanded the coverage area of a few stations but especially US channels carried on the system.

We received 4 CBC stations, two CTV stations, 4 from Buffalo, channel 11, and our local cable channel that produced local programming from day one.  Back then there wasn't as much duplication as you would think since 3 of the 4 CBC channels were affiliates and didn't carry all of the network programming and had a lot of syndicated and local programming they ran on their own.  Even CFTO and CKCO had a lot of different programming, other than prime time and a few hours in the afternoon.

I was so disappointed being in Daytona Beach in 1976 with lousy weather when the hotel we were staying at only had four channels!  All off air and nothing beyond the three commercial US networks and PBS. By this time cable in Southern Ontario had been expanded and included WUTV Buffalo  and more from Canada like Global. City TV, TVO, and everyone's favourite.. Radio Canada.

In 1981 in Houston much the same story at the hotel, only 4 or 5 channels and a few fuzzy ones from out of town but really just the CBS or ABC affiliate from a distant town.  Cable as we knew it still wasn't that widespread stateside even then. Cable channels were just starting to get some traction, but still had limited availability in many areas.

So for about 12-15 years back then we were a little spoiled at least for the variety of channels available.

Last edited by paterson1 (September 8, 2020 6:48 pm)

 

September 8, 2020 7:26 pm  #8


Re: Happy Birthday CBLT

RA wrote:
Then, in early Sept. 1972, they jumped once again -  this time to their now familiar Channel 5.

I was only nine at this time (summer of 72), but I do remember the on air CBLT promos hyping the upcoming change:  Louis DelGrande in his bath robe looking puzzled when being told by other CBCers that he is moving, in fact they are all moving... 
 

Last edited by Glen Warren (September 8, 2020 7:26 pm)

 

September 8, 2020 7:33 pm  #9


Re: Happy Birthday CBLT

I have always wondered how many TV sets were in homes when CBLT signed on. Like it was mentioned, all you had was one channel from Buffalo, unless Rochester was available then (not sure offhand about their TV history).

 

September 8, 2020 9:51 pm  #10


Re: Happy Birthday CBLT

When CBLT signed on there were about 146,000 TV sets across Canada. During the month that the Toronto and Montreal stations signed on over 12,000 TV's were sold across the country, double from the previous month.   The only TV station available in Toronto at the time was WBEN who had all of the audience in Southern Ontario.

During the first month on air CBLT had 36% of the audience in the Toronto area with WBEN way ahead with 64%. By October CBLT had slid to 22% with WBEN at 78% and the most popular show with I Love Lucy.

Initially CBC had no US programming but in October had picked up a program from the DuMont network in the US with a science show. The Montreal station was initially bilingual with mostly French but English programming spread out throughout the day.  

More info on the birth and history of CBLT here...
https://www.broadcasting-history.ca/listing_and_histories/television/cblt-dt 


 

 

September 9, 2020 4:20 pm  #11


Re: Happy Birthday CBLT

If I read that correctly, it was 146,000 across the whole country, not just Toronto right? I would venture  Windsor (Detroit) and perhaps even London (Cleveland) would make up part of that figure.

 

September 9, 2020 5:53 pm  #12


Re: Happy Birthday CBLT

Once my late father began selling appliances for a living, we finally got a black & white TV.

Due to its potential for negative influence on the family, it was relegated to the unfinished basement, which of course we kids thought was great. https://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons3/grin.png


 

 

September 9, 2020 6:00 pm  #13


Re: Happy Birthday CBLT

Radio111 wrote:

If I read that correctly, it was 146,000 across the whole country, not just Toronto right? I would venture Windsor (Detroit) and perhaps even London (Cleveland) would make up part of that figure.

Yes, the figures were based on television sales across Canada.  So TV sales in any city or town would be included.   By November 1953 there were approx. 445,000 televisions in Canada, and of these half  (222,500) in the Toronto/Hamilton/Niagara area. 

So possibly when CBLT signed on, using the same percent as 1953, there would be at least 73,000 sets in the Toronto/Hamilton/Niagara area when launched in September 1952.  The figure was likely closer to 100,000.

It is interesting to note that only CBLT had US competition, in Montreal and Ottawa no US TV signals could be received with any clarity.  And by December 1952 WBEN had one of the highest towers in North America and had increased power.    WBEN's new tower was 1,057 ft.and more than double the height what CBLT was using.

TV sales in Canada skyrocketed after the launch of the CBC stations in Montreal, Toronto and June 1953 Ottawa, increasing from 146,000 sets in September 1952 to 445,000 by November 1953.  CBC's first western Canadian station opened in Vancouver, December 1953 with CBUT. 

In 1954 more stations were added in Winnipeg, Montreal with an English only station, and in Halifax.  Also by 1954 privately owned affiliates such as London, Hamilton, Kitchener and Sudbury were joining the network across the country. 

Last edited by paterson1 (September 9, 2020 6:21 pm)

 

September 9, 2020 8:42 pm  #14


Re: Happy Birthday CBLT

Does anyone remember the Broadcast News scrolling news channel? I used to watch that in those days before CNN and Newsworld, and I worked the cable desk occasionally during my time at CP-BN. Cablestream - as it was called - was still going in 2010 when I retired from the company, but was no longer staffed around the clock as it was in the '70s and '80s.


"Life without echo is really no life at all." - Dan Ingram
 

September 9, 2020 9:46 pm  #15


Re: Happy Birthday CBLT

I used to love that channel.  Back before the days of 24 hour news _IT_ was the 24 hour news channel.    Hell, back then, it was the only all-night channel.
In the 80s I used it a lot when recording audio to vhs hi-fi.  In fact some radio stations would record their logger tapes on VHS using 3 8-hour tapes with the BN channel used as a video background.  Made finding something at a particular time quite easy.  And the audio was high quality to boot.
 

 

September 10, 2020 6:39 am  #16


Re: Happy Birthday CBLT

London had about 18,800 of the 445,000 those sets, according to the CFPL page. I would bet Windsor would be higher (even though CKLW didn’t sign on until the following year) due to how close the three Detroit stations are (plus perhaps a rimshot WSPD Toledo). Toronto/Hamilton having half would make sense, given a far larger population than Windsor.

 

September 10, 2020 11:20 am  #17


Re: Happy Birthday CBLT

Dale Patterson wrote:

Does anyone remember the Broadcast News scrolling news channel? I used to watch that in those days before CNN and Newsworld, and I worked the cable desk occasionally during my time at CP-BN. Cablestream - as it was called - was still going in 2010 when I retired from the company, but was no longer staffed around the clock as it was in the '70s and '80s.

Yes indeed.  

The early versions were very slow as each line printed out on the screen and some stories took 2 or more screens. It was a slow process in the early days;  however it was usually the only TV news source for someone coming home after midnight from an afternoon shift.