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March 16, 2023 4:45 pm  #1

How Canada's Only Employee-Owned Major TV Station Came To Be

This is by no means new - in fact it's a few years old - but I stumbled across it on Wednesday and frankly, couldn't stop watching it. It's the anniversary video for CHEK-TV in Victoria, a television station with a storied history that goes all the way back to 1956. It was supposed to be a CBC affiliate, became a CTV station for a time, and was taken over by Global's then-owners. 

It remains one of the west coast's most successful independent TV stations, but it has an incredible back story. When Global went to sell the place, they couldn't find a buyer. With only hours before the channel was going to be shut down forever, the employees managed to come up with $15,000 each to buy a piece of the business and saved the station. The workers now own it, a dramatic development that's told much better in their anniversary video. 

It also includes a great irony - a new building was put up to house CHEK as a CBC affiliate and paid for by the Corporation, when they suddenly came under control of CTV. Years later, CBC would need a place to house its radio station and they not only wound up back at CHEK - but now they had to pay rent to lease part of it out!

(I wish they explained what happens when somebody needs a raise and whether that's an issue if it's employee-owned. Also, what happens if one of those many co-owners decides to leave? Do they get their investment back? And if there's a dispute, who's considered the "boss" if everybody owns it?)

The video that tells their remarkable story runs :23 minutes and I found it pretty amazing. Your mileage may differ but the mini-documentary of how all this came to be is quite a TV show in itself. See it here. 


March 16, 2023 9:36 pm  #2

Re: How Canada's Only Employee-Owned Major TV Station Came To Be

As I understand the history, CHEK was owned by BCTV, aka CHAN-TV in Vancouver - and for a time in the 70s it had affiliations with both CBC and CTV. BCTV - which itself was a CTV affiliate but never controlled by the network - decided on its own to cut CHEK’s ties with the CBC in 1981.

I’ve also read the CBC’s never launched station in Victoria got as far as having its own call letters - CBUVT. And it was supposed to go on Channel 10, which eventually got taken over by Vancouver’s CKVU.

CHEK had an interesting news schedule for many years under BCTV ownership. They had a local Vancouver Island newscast weeknights at 5:30, and then they simulcast BCTV’s News Hour at 6:00. Both aired CTV National News at 11:00 but then each aired separate local newscasts at 11:20. Apparently that arrangement existed right up until 2001 when BCTV joined the Global network and CHEK became “CH”, and they aired fully separate news programming thereafter.

Last edited by MJ Vancouver (March 16, 2023 9:38 pm)