The Société de télédiffusion du Québec (English: Quebec Television Broadcasting Corporation), branded as Télé-Québec, is a Canadian French language public educational television network in the province of Quebec. It is a provincial Crown corporation owned by the Government of Quebec. The network's main studios and general offices are located in Montreal, at the corner of Saint Catherine and Fullum Streets in Downtown Montreal.
Télé-Québec is equivalent to Ontario's TVOntario and TFO, and British Columbia's Knowledge Network, and similar to the US PBS network and its affiliated state networks, in that it is somewhat modest in scope, runs mostly educational or cultural programming, and does not try to compete with privately owned television networks or with the Ici Radio-Canada Télé network owned and operated by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. However, unlike TFO and the anglophone educational networks, it does run commercials during its programming.
All programming on Télé-Québec is in French, though there are a few shows and movies that are presented in the original language (predominantly English), with French subtitles.
Télé-Québec operates local offices in Val-d'Or, Trois-Rivières, Rimouski, Gatineau, Sept-Îles, Quebec City, Sherbrooke, Saguenay and Carleton-sur-Mer.
Télé-Québec is one of the partners in the TV5 Québec Canada and TV5MONDE consortiums. It also had a 25% stake in the French-Canadian arts specialty channel, ARTV, which it sold to the CBC in 2010.
On April 20, 1945, the Legislative Assembly of Quebec, under the mandate of Premier Maurice Duplessis, passed a law allowing Quebec to create and run a public broadcasting network, as a provincial counterpart to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
However, it never got beyond the planning stages until February 22, 1968, when the Daniel Johnson, Sr. administration created a new public broadcasting agency, "Radio-Québec", under the auspices of the Ministry of Education. Shortly afterward, the first Radio-Québec program, a radio program on the history of Canada called En montant la rivière, was produced. Produced later that year was its first television program, Les Oraliens, where space aliens taught kids how to properly pronounce French words and phrases.
In 1969, a new law was passed by the National Assembly of Quebec, creating l’Office de radio-télédiffusion du Québec ("Quebec Office of Radio and Television Broadcasting"), where Radio-Québec was placed.
Radio-Québec began broadcasting on its own in 1972 as a cable channel, which broadcast evenings on community channels in Montréal and Quebec City, then expanded in 1973 to Hull, Gatineau and Sherbrooke. As a cable network, Radio-Québec was generally on the air weeknights from 8 pm to 10 pm. The network of over-the-air transmitters was launched on January 19, 1975 with the sign-ons of CIVM-TV in Montreal and CIVQ-TV in Quebec City, making its programming available to an even wider audience. In its early days after the terrestrial network began, Radio-Québec would provide week-delay videotapes of its programming line-up to cable systems in communities not served by a Radio-Québec station. Some Radio-Québec programs were also seen on most Radio-Canada stations, not only in Quebec, but throughout Canada as well; this arrangement continued into the 1980s.
In 1977, Radio-Québec opened its third station, CIVO-TV in Hull, serving the greater Ottawa area—the station was built after acquiring the licence and facilities of a failed TVA affiliate, CFVO-TV.
Radio-Québec was off the air during most of 1978, due to a lockout of its employees in a labour dispute.
In 1979, Radio-Québec's agency was restructured as a provincial crown corporation, Société de radio-télévision du Québec ("Quebec Radio and Television Broadcasting Corporation"). The network had also adopted the slogan, L'autre télévision ("The other television").
On January 1, 1985, Radio-Québec began providing its programming to its stations and cable systems via satellite, using Anik C-3. Also that year, the CRTC granted Radio-Québec permission to show commercials during some of its programming, initially for a two-year trial run. This authorisation became permanent—by the 2002-03 fiscal year, Télé-Québec's revenues from advertising would account for 45.8% of its total revenue.
In 1994, the Quebec government announced budget cuts for Radio-Québec, in which its budget was reduced by $10 million. In 1995, Radio-Québec president Jean Fortier announced that the network was virtually bankrupt. As a result, over 150 staffers were laid off (out of over 750 people employed), with plans for further layoffs to trim the employee count to 300 staffers. Programming produced in-house would either be cancelled or transferred to independent companies. In addition, the network would adopt the "Télé-Québec" name the following year, in 1996, with the crown corporation renamed as "Société de télédiffusion du Québec". A proposal for the new Télé-Québec to carry strictly educational programming was never carried out. Instead, it retained its mixed educational-entertainment schedule.
The monetary shortfall was short-lived, as, by 1997, Télé-Québec resumed productions on its own and increased its amount of original programming.
Over 40% of Télé-Québec’s programming is children's programming. In 2005, Ramdam was a popular show for 2 to 11 year-olds. Other children's shows have included Cornemuse, Zoboomafoo, and Nickelodeon series Dora l'exploratrice and Bob le bricoleur. Animated shows include IDragon, Les Mélodilous, Le Petit tracteur rouge, and Toupie et Binou. For 6 to 8 year-olds, shows have included Macaroni tout garni, Nickelodeon's Rocket Power, Esprits-fantômes, and Le Petit roi Macius. Ramdam and Banzaï are both aimed at pre-teens (9 to 12), and ADN-X is a teens show that provides practical solutions to everyday problems.
Télé-Québec's cultural programming reflects Quebec's diverse cultural expression in fiction, songs, music, cinema, visual art, and drama. Télé-Québec shows such as Belle et Bum, M’as-tu lu? and Pulsart help to promote Quebec artists and creators and their works. Belle et Bum is a music show that invited 160 performers or groups in 2005–2006, who performed 230 songs by Quebec songwriters or composers. M'as-tu lu? is a book show that covers books of all genres and for all audiences; in 2005–2006, 260 books were presented, 124 of which were by Quebec authors. Pulsart is a magazine show on cultural activities taking place all over Quebec.
A new weekly cultural magazine-style show, Libre échange, deals with a ranges of different creative arts, including dance, cinema, literature, sculpture, painting, television, music, and theatre. As well, a new series of "living portraits" will profile notable living creators such as authors, filmmakers, architects and thinkers.
Télé-Québec presents a range of films, including "auteur" films by notable directors, feature-length documentaries, premiere showings, and Quebec films. All films are shown without commercial interruptions. During the last five years, Télé-Québec showed over 959 hours of documentaries, which made up 18% of its programming. Documentary topics included socio-political, cultural, historic, scientific, and travel. Between 2000 and 2006, 137 documentaries and 39 series were produced.
Télé-Québec also hosts debate and discussion-oriented shows that allow for an exchange of ideas and perspectives on social and political issues. Points chauds is a show on international political issues. Méchant contraste! is a pan-Quebec magazine show on social, political, and economic issues. Dussault-Débat is a debate show.
As a community service, Télé-Québec has a number of shows that present a regional perspective, such as Méchant contraste!, À la di Stasio, les Francs Tireurs, M'as-tu lu?, Une pilule, and Pulsart. Télé-Québec also has an Internet strategy, as part of its educational and cultural mission. In 2003, the extremis.tv website won a Gémeaux prize for the best Internet site. In 2004, du missionarctique.tv won the same award. The website for the teen-oriented show ADN-X has interactive activities including a comic strip-creating activity.
The only Télé-Québec program that was entirely in English was Quebec School Telecasts, a weekday, hour-long block of English-language instructional programming. The series was first telecasted on CBC Television outlets in Quebec in the early-1960s. Radio-Québec picked up the program in 1981; it was telecasted on Radio-Québec and the later Télé-Québec until the early-2000s.
In 1985, Radio-Québec and TVOntario signed an exchange arrangement, in which English-language TVO programming would be seen on Radio-Québec, and Radio-Québec's French-language programming would be seen on TVO.
On June 12, 2008, Télé-Québec launched an HD simulcast of its Montréal station CIVM-TV called "Télé-Québec HD". It signed on over the air on channel 27 (PSIP 17.1) from Olympic Stadium in Montreal in January 2009, making CIVM-DT the first educational television station in Canada to broadcast digitally. After the analogue shutdown and digital conversion in Canada, scheduled for August 31, 2011, CIVM-DT will move to channel 26.
A digital terrestrial television transmitter requested and authorized for construction in Quebec City for CIVQ-TV did not sign on until August 2010, weeks before the September 25, 2010 deadline to sign on or file an extension. That transmitter broadcasts from Edifice Marie-Guyart in downtown Quebec City on channel 25 (PSIP 15.1). After the digital conversion in 2011, CIVQ moved its digital signal to channel 15.
Télé-Québec intended on converting all of its transmitters to digital by the digital transition deadline of August 31, 2011, including its transmitters that are not required to transition by this deadline.
Télé-Québec's network consists of 12 stations and five repeaters, originating at CIVM-DT in Montreal.
It can also be seen nationwide on Bell TV Channel 138 and Shaw Direct Channel 722. On terrestrial cable, however, it is generally seen only in Quebec and in communities in Ontario and New Brunswick which are within the broadcast range of a Télé-Québec transmitter. Outside of this area, few cable systems, such as MTS in Winnipeg, carry Télé-Québec in their digital tiers.
Télé-Québec (and its predecessor, Radio-Québec) was also assigned channel 2 in Rivière-du-Loup, channel 10 in Lithium Mines and channel 21 in Mont-Laurier. As of 2009, service has yet to begin in these communities; in addition, it had later lost its channel 2 slot at Rivière-du-Loup, after that channel was reallocated to Quebec City (CFAP-TV) and Rimouski (CJBR-TV). It is also unknown if the Lithium Mines transmitter was replaced by, or provided secondary service of, CIVA-TV, the Télé-Québec outlet serving nearby Val-d'Or.