CJON-DT St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador Branding NTV Slogan Canada's Superstation Channels Digital: 21 (UHF)
Virtual: 21.1 (PSIP)
Subchannels 21.1 NTV HD
21.2 OZ FM
Translators see below Affiliations Independent Owner Stirling Communications International
(Newfoundland Broadcasting Company, Ltd.)
First air date September 6, 1955 Call letters' meaning St. JOhN's
Sister station(s) CHOZ-FM Former callsigns CJON-TV (1955-2011) Former channel number(s) 6 (Analog, VHF, 1955-2011) Former affiliations CBC (1955-1964)
Transmitter power 266 kW Height 254.6 m Transmitter coordinates Website NTV
CJON-DT is a Canadian English language television station broadcasting on channel 21 (cable channel 5 (SD)) in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, with additional transmitters and cable coverage throughout the province. It is known on-air as NTV, for Newfoundland Television. Owned by Stirling Communications International (Geoff Stirling and family), it was Newfoundland and Labrador's first television station, and it remains the province's only privately owned TV station. NTV is well known for its unusual mix of programming, particularly in the overnight hours. NTV is available over the air across the island portion of the province, cable TV via Rogers Cable and EastLink, satellite TV via Bell TV and Shaw Direct, and Bell Aliant IPTV.
NTV's studios are located on Logy Bay Road in St. John's, and its main transmitter is located on the South Side Hills. Although nominally an independent station, in practice it sublicenses entertainment programming from Global and news programming from CTV and Global, rather than purchasing primary broadcast rights as most independent stations do.
In 1955, Newfoundland Broadcasting Company Ltd., owner of CJON radio (930 AM), applied for and received a licence for the first TV station in Newfoundland. Newfoundland Broadcasting was jointly owned by Geoff Stirling and Don Jamieson. The station went on-air later that year as a CBC Television affiliate. Stirling has contended that his was the only group willing to invest in such a station, although other sources have suggested that Stirling and Jamieson used their political connections to prevent the CBC from opening its own station in Newfoundland first. This scenario is somewhat unlikely because until 1958, the CBC was both the primary broadcast regulator in Canada and a broadcaster in its own right, the former role taken over in 1958 by the independent Board of Broadcast Governors (the forerunner of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission [CRTC]). However, the CBC-owned CBYT in Corner Brook launched soon after, in 1959. When it opened, CJON's first studios and offices were located at the Prince of Wales Building in Buckmaster's Circle and the transmitter on Kenmount Road.
In any event, the CBC launched CBNT in 1964, and CJON-TV became an affiliate of the new CTV network. For a time it was known as NBC, for the "Newfoundland Broadcasting Company", until 1978 when WLBZ, the Bangor, Maine affiliate of the U.S.-based National Broadcasting Company, became available on cable (to be replaced later by WDIV from Detroit and WHDH-TV from Boston). To avoid confusion, CJON-TV was rebranded NTV.
In 1972, CJON-TV became one of the first TV stations in Canada, if not the first, to broadcast around the clock every night (see "Overnight programming", below).
In 1977, Stirling and Jamieson unwound their partnership, with Jamieson taking the AM radio stations, with CJON radio being renamed CJYQ. In later years, many of the AM stations were eventually sold, and in several cases shut down. Stirling kept NTV and the newly-launched FM station CHOZ. 1983 saw NTV and OZ-FM's operations move to their present building on Logy Bay Road, with a new transmitter on the South Side Hills.
CJON was the only CTV affiliate not to participate in the network's 1993 restructuring from a cooperative to a corporation. However, it retained a nominal interest (less than 0.1 percent) until Baton Broadcasting bought controlling interest in the network in 1997.
NTV became available on C-Band satellite in 1994. The original purpose of this was to ensure that viewers in rural regions were able to receive the best signal possible. It also brought the station to Labrador for the first time. However, it became a popular choice for satellite viewers across the continent, as NTV's signal was unscrambled (free). The station began to make reference of its new coverage area in its promotions and branding; it adopted the "globe" logo it maintains today and modified its slogan to "Your Five-Star Satellite Network".
Due to issues involving program rights, it was forced to leave C-Band in 1996. NTV eventually returned to C-Band, but as an encrypted digital signal which required an expensive (roughly $1500) receiver to decode. It also became available on the Bell TV and Shaw Direct DBS services, beginning in 1997. The increased audience reach on these services and through digital cable services - far beyond that in Newfoundland and Labrador alone - has led the station to brand itself, most recently, as "Canada's Superstation". Nonetheless its reach pales in comparison to most specialty services, let alone the major broadcast networks.
Due to its location, some programs that NTV airs are first shown on this station before any other North American station airs them. This is signified with a "World Television Premiere" bumper that airs at the beginning of those programs - although, in the case of some syndicated programming, the bumper may be used simply to indicate that the program airs on CJON-TV before the local U.S. affiliate airs it. For instance, The Oprah Winfrey Show airs on NTV at 2:30 p.m. NT (18:00 UTC in winter, 17:00 UTC in summer; compared to 5:30 p.m. NT via WCVB-TV from Boston or WXYZ-TV from Detroit) and may hence be indicated as a "world premiere", although WLS-TV in Chicago, where Oprah is based, airs the program at 9:00 a.m. CT (11:30 a.m. NT).
NTV disaffiliated from CTV in 2002 in a dispute over affiliation terms. For most of its tenure as a CTV affiliate, NTV had aired the base 40-hour block of CTV programming, including national advertising, essentially for free since CTV paid NTV for the airtime. It then purchased rights to additional CTV programming for which NTV could sell all advertising. However, early in the 21st century (around 2001 and 2002), CTV tried to make NTV pay for the base 40-hour block as well, with no possibility of airtime payments, in a form of reverse compensation. CTV then raised rights fees for national CTV programming well beyond what Stirling and other NTV officials claimed they could pay. As a result, NTV officially became an independent station at the start of the 2002-03 television season. However, for all practical purposes, it is a Global affiliate except for news, which it still receives from CTV (see below).
NTV is not the only television station that lost its affiliation status with a major TV network and became independent in 2002. Other similar disaffiliations with U.S. stations occurred at that time in ways similar to that of NTV over contract disputes, both of which were longtime network affiliates for their given areas, and both of which became independent stations afterwards. The two stations are NBC affiliate KRON-TV in San Francisco and longtime CBS affiliate WJXT in Jacksonville, Florida. However, in 2006, KRON became the San Francisco Bay Area's affiliate of MyNetworkTV, then a television network owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation and Twentieth Century Fox Television and now a television broadcast syndincation service, and in 2010 took a secondary alternate NBC affiliation by airing selected NBC programming when the local owned-and-operated (O&O) NBC affiliate, KNTV (no relation to CJON-TV) in San Jose, cannot do so. A similar switch would later occur in 2009 when three stations of the now-defunct CH/E! system, CHCH-TV in Hamilton, Ontario, CJNT-TV in Montreal, and CHEK-TV in Victoria, British Columbia all went independent following the collapse of E! (Coincidentially, like CJON, CHEK was originally a CBC affiliate and later a CTV affiliate.)
The disaffiliation did, however, remove one major side effect of NTV's carriage of CTV programming. Whenever possible, NTV promoted its brand and removed any traces of CTV branding, despite the fact that it was a CTV affiliate. The large opaque bug that resulted, one specifically modified to cover the CTV logo during network time, was the subject of significant mocking and complaining by viewers. Other Canadian stations have routinely used opaque bugs themselves when airing programming through U.S. networks with which the station had no affiliation. However, NTV's bug was so bright that some viewers complained it could have "burned" into television screens, ruining them. NTV now uses opaque bugs only for some U.S. simulcasts, while the remaining CTV News broadcasts are now "co-branded" with both logos.
Early 1990s to 2002
Until the fall of 1992, CTV programming made up a clear majority of NTV's schedule, although acquired programming from CanWest Global and others was present. However, from 1992 on, when CTV reduced its programming to 40 hours per week, NTV suddenly became much more reliant on other broadcasters, primarily CanWest (which owned the Canadian rights to many dominant programs of the era such as The Simpsons and Seinfeld), but also Baton Broadcasting and WIC. Instead of relying on any one group, it took what it considered the best programming from all the groups, even after the Baton/CTV merger strengthened the CTV schedule considerably.
During this period, and indeed well before, NTV consistently aired 4.5 hours of prime time programming each night, a great deal of it of American origin, from 8:00 p.m. NT to 12:30 a.m. NT (11:00 p.m. ET), as opposed to the North American norm of three hours. In fact, for at least one season in the mid-1990s, first-run primetime programming began at 7:30 and ran until 12:30. Although the net result was less than the mandated 50% Canadian content between 6 p.m. and midnight, this was not deemed to violate Cancon regulations as CTV National News did not feed an 11:00 p.m. AT edition until 1997, although the practice was maintained without CRTC complaint until disaffiliation in 2002.
2002 to present
As of fall 2002, NTV lost access to most CTV programming, but maintained rights to CTV National News, Canada AM, and other CTV news programming free of charge, on condition it continue to provide coverage of Newfoundland and Labrador events for CTV and CTV News Channel. Additionally, it purchased rights to additional CTV programming, such as Desperate Housewives, on an individual, per-season basis. (Housewives aired on NTV in its first season but not since, and presently no CTV entertainment programming appears regularly on NTV. Until 2006, some other CTV-owned properties such as the Academy Awards or the Juno Awards continued to air on NTV, but all have recently been dropped, although The Juno Awards have since reappeared on NTV as of 2009.)
Most of NTV's entertainment programming since 2002 has been received pursuant to a program supply agreement with Global Television; for instance, Survivor, Family Guy, and The Young and the Restless. NTV's last public comment on the arrangement, at a CRTC hearing in 2002, was to the effect that it would expire at the end of the 2005-2006 season. However, with the addition of new Global programs to the NTV schedule during the spring and summer of 2006, all indications are that the agreement has been extended.
Since 2002, NTV's "prime time" hours have been reduced, running from 8:00 to 11:30 (followed immediately by CTV News), with a subsequent further reduction in summer 2006 to three hours (8:30 to 11:30). This results from the recent addition of The Insider at 7:30 (replacing Frasier reruns) and Entertainment Tonight Canada at 8:00, both following the original ET at 7:00. (However, after two weeks of airing The Fishery Now from July 10 to 21, NTV started airing Star! Daily on July 24. The Insider moved to the overnight hours on July 10.)
Even now, however, NTV has not restricted itself to a firm affiliation with Global. Syndicated programming such as The Oprah Winfrey Show has made its appearance (as it has on other CTV and Global stations). At least one year NTV carried a made-for-TV figure skating event for which the national rights were held by the now-defunct Craig Media. In the summer of 2005, NTV began airing three CHUM series, namely Fashion Television (mainly older episodes), the MuchMusic series Spotlight, and Star!'s entertainment news program Star! Daily, despite the longstanding relationship between CHUM and the Atlantic Satellite Network (ASN) (now A Atlantic following CTVglobemedia's 2008 restructuring of the former A-Channel into the A system, incorporating ASN as its affiliate for Atlantic Canada). Also, NTV has aired Jeopardy! until 2008, when this and its sister program, Wheel of Fortune, moved to CBNT. Both game shows have previously been on ASN throughout the 1990s.
Unlike most Canadian stations, which fill essentially all of their unsold commercial airtime with program promotions or public service announcements, NTV frequently uses minute-long clips of music videos, usually at the end of a commercial break, in addition to its promos and (more rarely) its PSAs. Video usage has recently been relaxed, at least during parts of the regular broadcast day, with the addition of high-rotation news and weather updates of up to two minutes duration. However, music videos - sometimes aired in full - remain common during the overnight hours, when NTV rarely if ever sells any commercial spots.
The "missing" programming
Presently, Newfoundland and Labrador is, by far, the largest Canadian market not served by separate CTV and Global-affiliated local stations. Inevitably this means that some network programming seen elsewhere is not easily available in that province.
For instance, while it may be considered the de facto Global affiliate in Newfoundland, as a result of carrying CTV National News it avoids use of the Global brand, including its editing of Global-produced promos to use the NTV logo, it has been inconsistent in its coverage of the NFL aside from the Super Bowl, and it airs a large amount of Global programming out of pattern (although Global stations themselves have significant scheduling flexibility for many programs).
NTV has claimed that, should the station drop CTV's newscasts in favour of Global's, the former would immediately apply for a station in Newfoundland. In turn, it says, any program supply agreement with Global would automatically become void, as that network would also apply for its own station in the CRTC's ensuing call for applications. Most likely, one new station (if any) would be approved, and NTV would have to negotiate a new agreement with the remaining network(s). As of July 2009, NTV has begun airing both CTV National News and Global National.
In contrast, no CTV network station is widely available on analog cable in Newfoundland. Many viewers, however, are able to avail of out-of-market CTV stations via satellite and digital cable; ASN/A Atlantic, which simulcasts Canadian Idol and some CTV sports coverage, which has included the 2010 Winter Olympics; and CTV-owned specialty channels like The Comedy Network, which airs repeats of Canadian series like Corner Gas, in addition to the American networks which originate many series aired by CTV. Still, some programs, including Canadian dramas such as Whistler, are not available to most viewers. (However, episodes from the second season of Whistler have been broadcast on ASN in its second season in 2007.)
Neither CTV nor Global have indicated any immediate plans to enter the Newfoundland market themselves. However, a recent intervention by Global in support of NTV suggests that that company may be continuing to pursue the station as a possible future acquisition, although the Stirlings have long denied any desire to sell.
In mid-July 2006, NTV purchased the rights to air the rest of the current season of Canadian Idol (prior to July 17, Idol aired exclusively in Newfoundland and Labrador on ASN). Some commercials and promos normally seen on full-time CTV affiliates are seen during the live broadcasts.
Until the mid-1990s, NTV's newscasts, under various names and with various anchors, lingered well behind those of CBNT, specifically the long-running Here & Now, in local ratings. The author Michael Harris served as anchor and news director for a few years in the early 1990s but was unable to turn the tide despite presiding over several well-received documentaries.
At this time, however, Here & Now's start time was 6:30 p.m., due to the CBC practice of "delaying" programming by half an hour for Newfoundland viewers, whereas the norm in most markets was 6:00 p.m. NTV capitalized by relaunching its own 6:30 newscast, the NTV Evening News, as the NTV Evening Newshour, a program with a 6:00 start. Ratings for its first half-hour soon climbed above those of Here & Now, although the latter program maintained the overall lead until it was replaced by the hybrid local-national Canada Now newscast in 2000. NTV has recently claimed, citing BBM ratings, that its newscast is the most dominant one in Canada, and to date it has retained its leadership over the relaunched Here & Now.
On weeknights, the Newshour is fronted by news anchors Fred Hutton and Lynn Burry, and weather personality Toni-Marie Wiseman. (As a frequent substitute anchor, and Sunday co-anchor with Larry Jay, Wiseman is always credited equally with Hutton and Burry, an anomaly in North American TV news.) While popular, some have criticized its focus on the St. John's area, and particularly events there such as car accidents, while marginalizing reports from the rest of the province; the station has made efforts to dispel such concerns by employing additional journalists and stringers province-wide.
It has frequently been promoted as "the award-winning NTV Evening Newshour", in reference to a RTNDA Canada "Best Newscast - Medium Market" award from 1998 (for a newscast aired in 1997), and several other awards for individual reports received since. (Overall, CBNT has won more RTNDA and AJA awards over the same period, and is the most recent area station to have won an RTNDA Best Newscast award, winning in 2009.)
Repackaged versions of the Newshour air at midnight and at 6:00 a.m. the following day. NTV Newsday, a live newscast that airs weekdays at noon, frequently also relies on content from the previous night's Newshour.
NTV's newscasts are also seen on at least one TV station in the US — WZRA-CA channel 48, an ethnic station in the Tampa Bay area, has regularly carried NTV's newscasts as well as select CTV programming. In fact, NTV's website promotes the fact that NTV advertisers can reach Tampa viewers through WZRA, although the station's signal is only received well in northwestern parts of Tampa (WZRA is licensed to Oldsmar, Florida, a northwestern suburb of Tampa).
As with many local stations in North America, non-news local programming was common in the station's early days but had decreased significantly by the 1990s. Since 2002, perhaps given the recent ratings dominance of CTV over Global (NTV's chief programming supplier), NTV has attempted to distinguish itself further through additional local programming, mainly from independent local producers. Examples include the late-evening comedy George Street TV, and the reality series Newfoundland Karaoke Idol and Define Yourself. It also airs repeats of programs from the NTV archives, most frequently Jim Furlong's long-running retrospective series A Little Good News, under the title ntv.ca (the program, however, has nothing to do with the station's website).
For many years, NTV has been notorious for overrunning their noon and evening newscasts into the next program's time slot. For example, The Young and the Restless, listed in all television guides with a start time of 12:30 p.m., starts as many as two or three minutes late. In fact, Newsday's final segment, an entertainment/gossip report from CNN, usually begins after the bottom of the hour. Similarly, the Newshour usually ends several minutes after 7:00, usually delaying Entertainment Tonight and sometimes the rest of the primetime schedule, and promos are removed, to the extent possible, to make up time. In extreme cases the first few minutes of ET may be pre-empted altogether. On the other hand, in the case of late-night repeats, the overrun actually helps to fill a longer (65-minute) time slot, as the Late Show is normally simulcast with CBS at 1:05 a.m. NT.
As noted above, NTV claims to have been the first television station in Canada to remain on the air continuously, 24 hours a day every day. While this is now the norm at most stations in North America, NTV is unique - particularly among Canadian stations - in that it rarely if ever sells overnight timeslots for paid programming. However, the eclectic alternatives to traditional broadcast fare that have resulted have garnered considerable attention.
NTV's published overnight schedule (that is, between 1:00 and 6:00 a.m.) generally consists of Late Show with David Letterman or Saturday Night Live and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, followed by additional (usually U.S.made) prime time or syndicated programming, such as Seinfeld, that NTV cannot carry during the rest of the day, and in some cases movies on Saturday and Sunday nights. The period then concludes with Scenes of Newfoundland (and Labrador), a full half-hour or hour dedicated to scenes of the province with traditional music from local artists playing in the background.
While, in fact, this schedule is followed more often than not, over the years there have been numerous instances where scheduled programming has been pre-empted, presumably at the behest of station owner Geoff Stirling. In its earliest days, a viewer might have seen a constant shot of a fish tank in the overnight hours. Nowadays the hours may be filled with "specials" featuring, among other things, Stirling's metaphysical thoughts, his interviews with likes of the late Newfoundland premier Joey Smallwood and conspiracy theorist David Icke, a "Computer Animation Festival", various features or animations starring Stirling-created superheroes such as Captain Atlantis, Captain Newfoundland and Captain Canada, extended (sometimes all-night) tributes to the late Elvis Presley and John F. Kennedy, and other programs that are truly miscellanea. Stirling once stated during a "fireside chat" that he's against abortion in China because those aborted babies could have grown up to become NTV viewers.
Other topics seen on the late night NTV programming schedule relate to Stirling's interests in eastern mysticism, as well as intestinal health, Unidentified Flying Objects, crop circles and the pyramids. Sterling has been known to telephone master control from a remote location and order that a particular favorite program immediately preempt current programming, or that a particular effect be applied to the screen by the technician. Often multiple videos would be "layered" over each other, with unusual results. While things like this tend to anger viewers, Geoff Stirling's eclectic programming has its cult following.
The NFB documentary Waiting for Fidel, featuring Stirling and Smallwood in Cuba awaiting an interview with Fidel Castro that never occurs, has been one of the more notable programs to air on NTV overnight.
Even if programming is not pre-empted, on occasion viewers may still see a message, likely from Stirling, displaying his opinions and thoughts as a "ticker" on the bottom of the screen. On one such instance, viewers of The Tonight Show (when that show was carried by NTV) claimed to see such a ticker announcement seeking the arrest and prosecution of a man who used NTV's logo on his website - generally considered to be a satirical one - without authorisation. The site has since been taken down.
All transmitters are in analog, unless otherwise noted. NTV's other transmitters (not including community-owned rebroadcasters) are:
Station City of licence Channel ERP HAAT Transmitter Coordinates CJON-TV-4 Bay Bulls 10 (VHF) 0.009 kW NA CJCN-TV Norris Arm 4 (VHF) 100 kW 182.5 m CJCV-TV Clarenville 11 (VHF) 0.211 kW 112 m CJLN-TV Lawn 10 (VHF) 0.009 kW NA CJLW-TV Deer Lake 8 (VHF) 2.5 kW 129 m CJMA-TV Marystown 11 (VHF) 1.8 kW 237 m CJOM-TV Argentia 3 (VHF) 14 kW 164 m CJOX-TV-1 Grand Bank 2 (VHF) 9.26 kW 117.3 m CJRR-TV Red Rocks 11 (VHF) 0.805 kW 132 m CJSV-TV Stephenville 4 (VHF) 8.34 kW 138.3 m CJWB-TV Bonavista 10 (VHF) 17.6 kW 169 m CJWN-TV Corner Brook 10 (VHF) 14.75 kW 88.5 m
Transmitters in Swift Current (CJSC-TV channel 10), Glenwood (CJSG-TV channel 7), and St. Alban's (CJST-TV channel 13) have been shut down as of December 31, 2006.  Other transmitters in smaller communities were shut down or spun off to community-based groups during the 1990s.
In addition to its extensive cable carriage, the station is carried by Shaw Direct on channel 310 & 63, and by Bell TV on channel 199. NTV is also available on Shaw Digital TV, Rogers Cable (expect in Ontario), Vidéotron Illico and various other cable operators nationwide.
NTV can also be seen on cable systems in Bermuda, Saint Pierre & Miquelon and the Bahamas, and some programming can—as noted above—be seen on a low-power television station in Florida, WZRA-CA in Oldsmar.
As a quirk of analog broadcasting, some FM radio receivers that could tune as low as 87.5 MHz received the audio signal from NTV within the broadcast area of the main St. John's transmitter, as a consequence of channel 6's audio carrier being on 87.75 MHz. This fact was regularly noted in print ads in the Newfoundland Herald, although these ads did not suggest any geographical restrictions.
Digital television and high definition
Channel Label Programming 21.1 NTV HD Main CJON-DT programming 21.2 OZ FM Simulcast of CHOZ-FM
As of May 2011, CJON-TV announced plans to broadcast in digital and in high definition. The analog transmitter serving the St. John's viewing area was shut off on the morning of July 11, 2011, in order to facilitate installation of the new digital HD transmitter. CJON-DT began transmitting in digital on August 3, 2011. NTV-HD is available over-the-air in the St. John's area, on EastLink digital cable (channel 605), Rogers digital cable (521), and Bell Aliant FibreOP TV (404).
- CTV: The Television Wars, Susan Gittins, Toronto: Stoddart Publishing, 1999
- Small, Lennon, the gods and ME, Susan Bourette, Report on Business Magazine, December 2004
- nf.general Archives - Usenet newsgroup where NTV pre-emptions have been frequently discussed (Click here for listings specific to NTV)
- Canadian Communications Foundation - "official" station history
- Transcript of CRTC public hearing, December 11, 2002
- Canadian Communications Foundation - CJON-TV History
- Query the REC's Canadian station database for CJON-TV
- Query TV Fool's coverage map for CJON
Broadcast television in Newfoundland and Labrador St. John'sDTV Goose Bay Cable-only Defunct††All continue to operate as full-time rebroadcasters of CBNT.
See also: List of television stations in Newfoundland and Labrador
Independent television stations in Canada Conventional Community See also Global Television Network Owned and operated stations AffiliatesCHFD Thunder Bay • CJON St. John's (de facto) Secondary carriers See also
CTV stations in Canada Owned-and-operated stationsCTV Northern Ontario stationsCTV Atlantic stationsCKLT Saint John • CKCW Moncton • CJCH Halifax • CJCB Sydney Independently-owned affiliatesCITL Lloydminster • CJBN Kenora Secondary carriersCJON St. John's See also
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