Subchannels 21.1 NTV HD 21.2 OZ FM
|Slogan Canada's Superstation|
Affiliations Global CTV Yes TV
|Channels Digital: 21 (UHF)
Virtual: 21.1 (PSIP)|
Owner Stirling Communications International (Newfoundland Broadcasting Company, Ltd.)
CJON-DT, UHF channel 21 (branded on-air as "NTV", short for "Newfoundland Television"), is an English-language independent television station located in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. The station is owned by Stirling Communications International (primarily owned by the estate of Geoff Stirling and his family). CJON's studios are located on Logy Bay Road in St. John's, and its transmitter is located atop the South Side Hills. The station also operates additional rebroadcast transmitters throughout the province.
- Early 1990s to 2002
- 2002 to present
- The missing programming
- Local programming
- Overnight programming
- News operation
- Technical information
- Analogue to digital conversion
Through extensive coverage in Canada, this station can be seen on Rogers Cable channel 5 (St. John's); Eastlink Cable channel 7 (most other parts of NL); Bell Aliant FibreOP channel 27 (NL/NS/NB/PEI); Bell TV channel 199; Telus Optik TV channel 30 (AB/BC); SaskTel Max channel 30 (SK); and Vidéotron Illico channel 405 (QC). On Shaw Direct, the channel is available on 310 (Classic) or 063 (Advanced), and in high definition on channel 054 (Classic) or 554 (Advanced). There is a high definition feed offered on Rogers Cable channel 521, EastLink TV channel 605 and Bell Aliant IPTV channel 404.
NTV is well known for its unusual mix of programming, particularly in the overnight hours. Although nominally an independent station, in practice it sublicenses programming via secondary affiliations with other networks and television systems. Entertainment programming is licensed from Global and Yes TV, sports programming from CTV, and news programming from Global and CTV.
In 1955, Newfoundland Broadcasting Company Ltd., owner of CJON radio (930 AM), applied for and received a licence for the first television station in Newfoundland. Newfoundland Broadcasting was jointly owned by Geoff Stirling and Don Jamieson. The station went on the air later that year on September 6, as a CBC Television affiliate. It was Newfoundland and Labrador's first television station, and remains the province's only privately owned station to this day. 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 began operations, 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 (channel 8) in 1964, and CJON-TV became an affiliate of the new CTV network. During the mid-1970s, 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 as "NTV", although as late as August 1978, the Newfoundland Herald's TV listings continued to refer to NTV as NBC, including listing the local newscasts under the title "NBC News".
In 1972, CJON-TV became one of the first television 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 left 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 direct broadcast satellite 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".
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 aired 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 was based, aired 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 (although this did not include news programming, which it still primarily receives from CTV, until CJON added Global's national evening newscast in 2009; see below). NTV is the only Canadian television station to broadcast 2 national news programs: Global's Global National and CTV's CTV National News and until 16x9’s cancellation in June 2016, aired both 16x9 and CTV's newsmagazine series W5.
NTV is not the only television station that lost its affiliation status with a major television 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 20th Television and now a television broadcast syndication service), and from 2010 to 2011 took a secondary alternate NBC affiliation by airing selected NBC programming when the local NBC owned-and-operated station, KNTV (no relation to CJON-TV) in San Jose, could not 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! (coincidentally, 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. NTV is the last CTV/Global station in the country.
During this period, and indeed well before, NTV consistently aired 4½ 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 the condition that 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 afterward, and currently no CTV entertainment programming appears regularly on NTV; until 2006, some other CTV-owned properties such as the Academy Awards and 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 the Global Television Network; 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 National 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, 2006, 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 CTV Two Atlantic following Bell Media's 2011 rebranding of the former A system into CTV Two, which had incorporated the then-ASN as its affiliate for Atlantic Canada in 2008). Also, NTV had aired Jeopardy! until 2008, when that show and its sister program, Wheel of Fortune, moved to CBNT, lack of Canadian independent stations were also moved from CBC four years later. Both game shows were previously seen 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
Currently, 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 was inconsistent in carrying Global's coverage of the NFL (now on CTV) aside from the Super Bowl, and it airs many Global programs out of pattern (although Global stations themselves have significant scheduling flexibility for many programs).
In the early 2000s, NTV had claimed that, if the station dropped 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). Since July 2009, NTV has aired both CTV National News and Global National.
In much of the province, Global's Edmonton owned-and-operated station CITV-DT has been widely available on analog cable since at least the early 1990s, which assists viewers in the event NTV chooses not to carry a particular Global program. In contrast, no CTV network station is widely available on analog cable in Newfoundland. Many viewers, however, are able to receive out-of-market CTV stations via satellite and digital cable; CTV Two Atlantic, which has simulcast some CTV programming including the 2010 Winter Olympics; and CTV-owned specialty channels such as The Comedy Network, which airs repeats of some of CTV's domestic series, in addition to the American networks which originate many series aired by CTV. Still, some programs, including current-season episodes of Canadian dramas such as Flashpoint, are not always as easily available. Certain CTV programs are made available Canada-wide on the network's website.
Neither CTV nor Global have indicated any immediate plans to enter the Newfoundland market themselves. However, a 2006 intervention by Global in support of NTV suggests that that company may have been continuing to pursue the station as a possible future acquisition, although the Stirlings have long denied any desire to sell.
Newfoundland and Labrador is the last province to get owned and operated CTV and Global affiliates separately.
Since 2006, on the rare occasions that NTV has carried special non-news events from CTV (such as the Juno Awards, Olympic Games and the Super Bowl), some commercials and promos normally seen on full-time CTV affiliates are seen during the broadcasts.
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 local wrestling promotion Legend City Wrestling on Saturday afternoons and fishing shows The Dimestore Fishermen and Newfoundland Sportsman. It also airs repeats of programs from the NTV archives, most frequently the retrospective series A Little Good News (later renamed NTV.ca), news program Canada in View (on Mondays) and speeches from Geoff Stirling during Captain Atlantis Late Night (on Saturdays).
As noted above, NTV claims to have been the first television station in Canada to broadcast its programming 24 hours a day. While this is now the norm for 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 overnight schedule (between 1:00 and 6:00 a.m.) generally consists of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert or Saturday Night Live followed by reruns of The Twilight Zone and The Doctors. The overnight block 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. Over the years, the overnight hours have been filled by content featuring, among other things, Stirling's metaphysical thoughts, his interviews with likes of Newfoundland premier Joey Smallwood and conspiracy theorist David Icke, computer animated art festivals, various features or animations starring Stirling-created superheroes such as Captain Atlantis (a.k.a. Captain Newfoundland) and Captain Canada, extended (sometimes all-night) tributes to The Beatles, Elvis Presley, and John F. Kennedy, Newfoundland cultural songs, 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 favourite 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.
In recent years, such content tends to only be aired from 2:00AM–4:00AM (Newfoundland Time) on Fridays after The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, generally under the program name "Captain Atlantis Late Night". On a common night, programming will include an archival interview, speech, or presentation with Geoff Stirling) followed by one of assorted computer animated art festivals compiled by Stirling Communications International and/or other archival programming. This content is bookended by cartoons featuring Captain Atlantis & Captain Canada, archival music videos & cultural songs, and "The Twelve Laws of God".
CJON-DT presently broadcasts 11 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with two hours on weekdays, and one hour on Sundays); the station does not broadcast any news programs on Saturdays. On weeknights, the Newshour is fronted by news anchors Glen Carter 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 television news). While popular, some have criticized the newscast's 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 television station in the United States – WZRA-CA (channel 48), an ethnic station in Tampa, Florida, 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).
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's practice of "delaying" programming by half an hour for Newfoundland viewers, whereas the CBC usually aired its local supper hour news programs in most markets at 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.
For many years, NTV has been notorious for overrunning its 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.
In addition to its extensive cable carriage, the station is carried by Shaw Direct on channels 63 and 310 (54 and 554 in HD), and by Bell TV on channel 199 (in SD only). NTV is also available on Shaw Digital TV, Rogers Cable (Maritime systems only), Bell Aliant Fibe TV (12 in SD, 404 in HD), 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 ended when the station converted to digital. This fact was regularly noted in print ads in the Newfoundland Herald, although these ads did not suggest any geographical restrictions.
The station once operated a network of retransmitters across the province. These transmitters were all analog and never converted to digital. Beginning in the 1990s, transmitters in smaller communities were shut down or spun off to community-based groups. More transmitters were shut down from 2006 to 2013.
The station's transmitters in Swift Current (CJSC-TV channel 10), Glenwood (CJSG-TV channel 7), and St. Alban's (CJST-TV channel 13) were shut down as of December 31, 2006; transmitters in Bay Bulls (CJON-TV-4 channel 10) and Lawn (CJLN-TV channel 10) were shut down as of November 2011.
On November 30, 2012, transmitters at Red Rocks (CJRR-TV channel 11) and Stephenville (CJSV-TV channel 4) were shut down; the station cited the age of the towers and the costs of the upkeep. The station also announced that their transmitter network would eventually close down in the coming years, due to the high cost of upkeep. Deleted concurrently with CJRR and CJSV was the transmitter at Grand Bank (CJOX-TV-1 channel 2), which left the air in September 2012 following the failure of its transmitter; NTV also chose to close CJOX-TV-1 instead of repairing it.
On July 31, 2013, the remaining over-the-air retransmitters of NTV in Corner Brook, Deer Lake, Norris Arm, Bonavista, Clarenville, Argentia and Marystown were discontinued. Coupled with the closure of the CBC's analogue repeater network in 2012, this left all of Newfoundland and Labrador outside of the St. John's area without aerial television, except for community-owned stations and transmitters in smaller, rural communities.
In 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 began transmitting its digital signal on August 3, 2011, broadcasting on UHF channel 21. CJON-DT has opted to use channel 21, its actual digital channel, as its PSIP, instead of channel 6, its former analogue channel. CJON's HD feed is available over-the-air in the St. John's area, on EastLink digital cable (channel 605), Rogers digital cable (521), Bell Aliant Fibe TV (404), and Shaw Direct satellite (channel 54). The HD signal of NTV is still not yet available on Bell satellite TV as of 2017.