Thursday, December 17, 2009

This Day in Canadian History

December 17, 1953 - Vancouver's first TV station goes on the air

Television arrived in Vancouver in 1953 when CBUT Vancouver first went on the air.

The arrival of television in Canada would only serve to intensify the ongoing debate about the nature of broadcasting in Canada, and the role of government in the media.

The CBC had already been operating since 1932, when the government of Robert Bennet -- remembered best for the "Bennet Buggies", automobiles pulled by horses for lack of fuel, during the Great Depression -- enacted the recommendations of the Aird Commission. Originally formed as the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission, the CBC would operate under the pretenses of ensuring Canadian cultural content would be broadcasted in Canada.

The CRCB built its network out of a collection of radio stations operated by the Canadian National Railway.

In time -- in fact, in just over a decade -- television supplanted radio as the premier source of in-home entertainment for Canadian families. However, television proved to complicate the question of how Canadian cultural content would continue to be guaranteed, as economics and market forcers compelled Canadian broadcasters to begin importing more and more television programs from the United States.

This process would particularly accelerate after the introduction of private broadcasters, such as CTV, operating alongside the publicly-broadcasted CBC. In time, cable and satellite would accelerate this process even faster.

Whether Canadian culture remains sufficient justification for maintaining the CBC is a matter of some question. Private broadcasters, such as CTV, Showcase and Bravo, have trumped the CBC in recent years, producing notable Canadian content like Billable Hours, Corner Gas and Trailer Park Boys, while perhaps the best-known recent CBC production has been Little Mosque on the Prairie.

But even if ensuring that Canadian cultural content remains on the air isn't sufficient justification for continuing to operate the CBC, ensuring that remote communities continue to enjoy the benefit of broadcasting -- especially news and information -- certainly is.


  1. There was television in Montréal and Toronto (CBMT, CBFT and CBLT) in 1952, one year ahead of Vancouver's CBUT.

    The CRBC (predecessor of the CBC) is the creation of R. B. Bennett, who was Conservative Prime Minister in 1932.

  2. You're right about that, of course.

    That'll teach me not to write these things when I'm exhausted.


Post your comments, and join the discussion!

Be aware that spam posts and purile nonsense will not be tolerated, although purility within constructive commentary is encouraged.

All comments made by Kevron are deleted without being read. Also, if you begin your comment by saying "I know you'll just delete this", it will be deleted. Guaranteed. So don't be a dumbass.