MTV (Canada)

MTV (Canada)
MTV Canada logo.svg
MTV logo
Launched September 1, 2000
Owned by Bell Media
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
Country Canada
Broadcast area National
Headquarters Toronto, Ontario
Formerly called talktv (2000 - 2006)
Sister channel(s) MuchMusic
Website MTV
Bell TV Channel 581
Shaw Direct Channel 566
Available on most Canadian cable systems Check local listings, channels may vary
Bell Aliant TV Channel 245
Bell Fibe TV Channel 581
MTS Channel 326
Optik TV Channel 177
SaskTel Channel 25

MTV is a Canadian English language Category A specialty channel devoted to talk, lifestyle and documentary programming.

MTV is owned by Bell Media, with its name licensed from the American channel of the same name, which is owned by MTV Networks, a division of Viacom.

The channel launched as talktv in 2000, but was not as widely available prior to its relaunch as MTV in March 2006. Unlike MTV channels in the U.S. and elsewhere, the channel cannot carry music videos and is limited in its ability to carry music programming due to Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) genre exclusivity restrictions, thus it is just called "MTV" instead of "MTV: Music Television", the full name used in the rest of the world prior to February 2010. MuchMusic, now a sister channel of the Canadian MTV channel, had been launched in 1984 with exclusivity in the mainstream music category.



MTV in Canada before 2006

CHUM Limited launched Canadian music channel MuchMusic in 1984, inspired by the success of MTV in the United States. CRTC genre exclusivity restrictions prevented MTV from either bringing its U.S. channel directly into Canada or setting up a homegrown competitor. As a result, MTV was initially content to sell Canadian rights to its programming for rebroadcast on MuchMusic. However, relations between the two channels were strained in the mid-1990s when CHUM launched an American version of MuchMusic (later resold and now known as Fuse) in direct competition with MTV.

In October 2001, MTV partnered with Craig Media to launch MTV Canada as a digital cable channel. The channel in question had initially been licensed by the CRTC as "Connect", a broadly based teen channel, without MTV involvement. One of the conditions of licence was that a maximum of 10% of the schedule could be devoted to music videos. In 2003, CHUM filed a complaint with the CRTC alleging that MTV Canada was airing more music videos than allowed by its licence and had subsequently become competitive with MuchMusic. In Broadcasting Decision 2003-65, the CRTC found that MTV Canada was offering a music-based service rather than a broadly-based teen channel. Furthermore, the Commission found that MTV was broadcasting in excess of 10% music video clips and that MTV was not meeting its commitment to provide educational programming for teens, nor was it providing any programming from independent educational authorities. Craig was ordered to come into compliance with its broadcasting licence.

After CHUM purchased Craig in 2004, MTV Networks terminated the agreement with Craig; the contract had included a provision to cancel the agreement if there was a change in ownership. CHUM Limited was required to pay MTV Networks the remaining licensing fees which amounted to C$10 million. On June 30, 2005, MTV Canada was re-branded Razer. CTVglobemedia would purchase CHUM in 2007; this led to Razer being rebranded as MTV2 on August 1, 2008, making it once again an MTV-branded channel.


Formerly talktv

Talktv was licensed in 1996, but did not launch until four years later in 2000. Talktv was home to repeats of CTV talk shows, as well as a six hour afternoon/evening program, The Chatroom, which aired every weekday until mid-2002, usually broadcast from the CTV-owned Masonic Temple in Toronto. The program featured future CTV network personalities Seamus O'Regan and Ben Mulroney, as well as Craig Norris (currently of CBC Radio 3) and Jennifer Hollett (currently a contributor to CBC News Network's Connect with Mark Kelley). In 1999, talktv also acquired the broadcast rights to Pamela Wallin Live, formerly broadcast on CBC Newsworld. On talktv, the program was renamed Pamela Wallin's talktv.

Talktv had been licensed as an analog channel, allowing cable companies to offer it without a digital cable box, and was one of the last specialty channels to be launched with that status (all specialty channels licensed since 2001 have been specifically limited to digital distribution). However, it was not explicitly required to receive analog carriage either, provided the provider had already launched digital services.[1] Due to this, combined with the channel's late launch and cable systems approaching capacity for analog channels, talktv was only available by digital means, aside from a handful of major markets such as Toronto.

Because of low ratings, and much more narrow distribution than other specialty channels, The Chatroom was cancelled in 2002, following which talktv became solely a repeat service for CTV network programming and repeated segments of The Chatroom. Ironically, this came just after the CRTC had granted it the right to charge seven cents per subscriber when carried on basic cable, whereas it was previously made available to these viewers free of charge; this decision had been expected to help sustain the channel's live programming.

The final show broadcast on talktv was on March 20, 2006 at 11:30 p.m. EST; specifically that night's episode of eTalk Daily, followed at midnight by a large, red MTV logo and an 18 hour countdown clock for the launch.

MTV relaunch

On September 28, 2005, CTV and MTV Networks announced that talktv would be relaunched as a new incarnation of MTV Canada while continuing to maintain its licence requirement to provide "dynamic, interactive, lifestyle, talk and documentary programming" with over 68% Canadian content. Brad Schwartz, previously an executive with MTV Networks, became the general manager of MTV Canada. Schwartz is now the Senior Vice-President and General Manager of the newly formed MuchMTV Group. In the September 28 press release, CTV claimed to have applied for a category 2 licence that would feature music videos, along the lines of the former MTV2 Canada (now PunchMuch). The application is believed to have been abandoned.

CTV already had strong ties with MTV; it was the first broadcast network to air The Osbournes, which aired during prime time, uncensored and subsequently added Punk'd, and Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica.

CTV's "exclusive" rights to MTV content meant that CHUM's MuchMusic lost all rights to MTV programming immediately following the announcement. CHUM released a statement saying that they would be intrigued as to how talktv could be morphed into MTV without violating its CRTC broadcasting licence, and filed a complaint with the CRTC. However, the CRTC was unable to take preemptive action based on a press release.

Since MTV uses the same broadcasting licence CTV held for talktv, CTV is restricted by the following conditions of licence:

  • an emphasis on talk programs
  • a minimum of 68% of the daytime programming must be Canadian content
  • a minimum of 71% of the prime time programming (6-12 PM EST) must be Canadian content

In February 2006, MTV began promoting their launch date with a series of ads with the slogan "the drought ends 03.21.06" some of which appeared during various programs across Bell Globemedia's (now Bell Media) television platforms.

Talktv's bug began periodically changing into an MTV logo to notify viewers of the coming change. On March 1, 2006 the network identifier on several program guides changed from talktv to MTVCAN, additionally the sole program listed was MTV is Coming, though this was not an actual program and the talktv schedule remained.

The actual relaunch occurred on March 21 at 6:00 p.m. EST, with the first edition of MTV Live. The start of MTV Live was preceded (at 5:58:20 p.m. EST) by a ten-second countdown featuring water drops with "MTV drops" appearing at the end, followed by a 90-second promo featuring various people wearing beige MTV shirts falling out of the sky signifying that the drought was over, as seen in the launch promos.

The relaunch as MTV did not affect the channel's analogue status. In fact many analogue cable viewers that never had access to talktv were able to view the channel at, or soon after, its relaunch. Analogue coverage has been greatly expanded, and many channel placements improved, through new deals with Rogers Cable, Bell TV, Shaw Direct and others.

The channel held its official on-air launch party on April 18, 2006, with live performances by Kanye West and Sam Roberts. These performances were edited into several specials that are aired on CTV.


The Canadian version of MTV carries most of the reality television series that currently dominate the schedule of its U.S. counterpart. However, music-based programming is notably absent from the channel. It has been widely speculated that MTV in Canada does not show music programming because of MuchMusic, however that is not the case. Because the broadcasting licence issued for talktv did not allow for any music programming, MTV in Canada can not show music based programs. Because of this, the MTV logo used by MTV in Canada never includes the phrase "Music Television", unlike other MTV-branded channels around the world. However, since mid-2007, MuchMusic and its affiliated channels including MuchMore have been under the same ownership as MTV in Canada, following CTVglobemedia's acquisition of CHUM Limited, meaning the former rival networks are now sister channels.

Before the re-launch, The Globe and Mail reported that the network would "... be quite different from what most people associate with the original American MTV, which has increasingly moved away from music videos toward reality shows and other original programming,"[2] placing a heavy emphasis on "talk and lifestyle shows". In a recent Canadian Press report, it was stated that while there could not be a Canadian version of the music-oriented Total Request Live, other spin off programs were not out of the question. Canadian versions of MTV Cribs, Diary and Making the Video have already been produced.

Leading up to the launch, CTV aired MTV Unplugged: Alicia Keys in early October 2005, and MTV's New Year of Music on New Year's Eve 2005.

On February 20, 2006, CTV announced that the Masonic Temple in Toronto - previously home to talktv and Open Mike with Mike Bullard - would be the new home for MTV Canada and its new flagship show, MTV Live. This would be essentially a revival of the live-and-interactive talk show format introduced by the chatroom, with new hosts, the addition of a studio audience, field reports, and live performances.

On June 27, 2006 MTV Canada aired Making the Video for the first time (Ashlee Simpson's "Invisible"), but only showed a short clip of the video. Viewers were told to watch the rest of the video on the MTV website. Recently, episodes of Making the Video have included the full music video.

Nearly all of the MTV US reality, documentary and lifestyle programs air on MTV Canada, although often several weeks after their initial airing in the US. Some programs have aired day, date and time with MTV US, mostly special presentations such as the MTV Movie Awards. However, seasons 3 and 3.5 of The Hills were shown in simulcast with MTV US. The Canadian-created Hills Aftershow became available to American viewers at this time.

Since its launch, MTV Canada has aired the annual MTV Movie Awards as a simulcast with MTV US. However, the MTV Video Music Awards do not air on MTV because of the high level of music content. The ceremony aired on CTV, the parent company of MTV in Canada in 2006 and 2007,[3] but returned to MuchMusic in 2008, which aired them until the MTV relaunch.

10 Spot

The 10 p.m. time slot from Monday to Friday is branded as the 10 Spot. It features the newest MTV reality and lifestyle series. A full array of promos, on air and online graphics are used to promote the 10 Spot. New, as well as returning series premiere monthly. This branded block normally attracts the highest ratings for the network. The 10 Spot schedule often resembles that of MTV US, though the programs are often several weeks behind their initial airings in the US.


During afternoon and prime time commercial breaks, MTV hosts direct discussions about the shows that are currently airing. Viewers are encouraged to interact with MTV and its hosts through email,, and telephone calls, 866-536-LIVE. These short interstitials are used as a way of fulfilling the requirement of talk programming.


In addition to MTV Canada's airings, CTV airs a branded late-night block of MTV programming six nights a week known as "MTV on CTV". These programs include several of the music-oriented and comedy programs that MTV Canada itself cannot air. Many of the reality/lifestyle shows that do air on MTV are also featured.

This block presently consists of two hours on Saturdays (12:05 - 2:05 a.m. local); actual times may vary by location or station. The block also formerly aired 30 minutes a night on weeknights (1:05 - 1:35 a.m. local) from MTV Canada's re-launch until September 7, 2007, which has since been replaced by TMZ on TV.

MTV slogans

  • the drought ends 03.21.06 (pre-launch)
  • There's something in the water
  • Tonight in the 10 Spot
  • Watch and Learn

At the time of launch in March 2006, it was branded as MTV Overdrive. In early 2007, the MTV Overdrive brand was dropped. In 2006, MTV US had dropped the Overdrive name and choose to call its service In June 2007, the site was redesigned, and was once again facelifted in March 2009 to re-focus the website on its video content.


Further reading

External links

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