In 2001, the Vancouver/Victoria, British Columbia television market saw a major shuffling of television network affiliations, involving nearly all of the area's television stations. This was one of the largest single-market affiliation realignments in the history of North American television, and had a number of significant effects on television broadcasting across Canada and into the United States.
The realignment resulted from Canwest Global's acquisition of Western International Communications (WIC) in 2000. In most involved markets, the acquisition gave Canwest Global independent stations which were integrated into Canwest's Global Television Network, or CTV-affiliated stations which were then sold directly to CTV to become owned-and-operated stations (O&Os). In Vancouver, however, the acquisition gave Canwest Global one of the most lucrative prizes in the entire country: control of CHAN-TV, the market's CTV affiliate and highest-rated television station.
CHAN's relationship with the CTV network in the years prior to the realignment had been rocky, especially after CTV launched a competing independent station, CIVT, in 1997. CTV maintained two different programming streams: a base "network" schedule which aired on all CTV stations, both O&Os and affiliates, and a separate "non-network" block of programming which only aired on O&Os. In much of Canada, this was a meaningless distinction, as most CTV stations were already O&Os, but in Vancouver the network programming aired on CHAN while the O&O programming aired on CIVT. As a result, for the four years between CIVT's launch and the 2001 realignment, the two stations were often in competition with each other for programming to which CTV held the broadcast rights — the network sometimes reclassified programs from one stream to the other to give CIVT an edge in the Vancouver ratings, sometimes leaving CHAN with little control over its own program schedule. It was also widely expected, although never publicly confirmed by CTV, that the network would simply transfer all of its programming to CIVT when CHAN's affiliation agreement ended.
Further aggravating CHAN's bad relations with CTV was the fact that the station had desired for years to host a national news program. Thus, it grew very hostile towards CTV, which it saw as "Toronto-centric". CTV's "reverse compensation" rules at the time, which saw fellow affiliate CJON-TV storm out of the network a few months afterward, were also emerging as a factor in the network's deteriorating relationship with its remaining affiliates.
As a result of the WIC takeover, Global assumed ownership of CHAN and chose to retain it instead of its less powerful existing O&O CKVU-TV. Due to the CRTC's rules on concentration of media ownership, Global could not retain both stations simultaneously with Victoria's CHEK, so it put CKVU on the market. CKVU's sale to CHUM Limited for $125 million was announced on April 13, 2001, and was approved by the CRTC on October 15 of the same year.
CHAN and CHEK's affiliation agreements with CTV were originally due to end in 2000; in view of the uncertainty surrounding the local media landscape, CTV renewed those agreements to expire on September 1, 2001, which became the date for the affiliation switch.
|Call-sign||Channel||Former Affiliation||New Affiliation||Notes|
|CHEK-TV||6||CTV||CH||CH was re-branded as E! in fall 2007; CHEK became an independent station in fall 2009 following the demise of the E! system.|
|CHAN-TV||8||CTV||Global||Shared CTV affiliation with CHEK-TV|
|CKVU-TV||10||Global||Independent, then Citytv||Nominally an independent station before its sale from Canwest to CHUM Limited was finalized (see below)|
|KVOS-TV||12||Independent/Citytv (Secondary)||Independent||Licensed to Bellingham, Washington, but targets the Vancouver/Victoria market. Carried some Citytv programming.|
|CIVT-TV||32||Independent||CTV||Already owned by CTV, but operated as an independent station (known as Vancouver Television, or VTV) before the affiliation switch.|
|CIVI-TV||53||new station||NewNet||Launched in October 2001 as The New VI, and re-branded in August 2005 as A-Channel, and again as A in August 2008|
|CHNU-TV||66||new station||NOWTV||Launched in September 2001 as NOWTV, re-branded in September 2005 as OMNI 10, rebranded as CHNU 10 in October 2007, and again as Joytv 10 in September 2008|
CKVU became a de facto Citytv station on the date of the affiliation switch, with its programming immediately provided and scheduled by CHUM Limited. However, as its sale to CHUM had not yet been finalized, the station was branded as "ckvu13" and did not officially adopt the Citytv brand name until 2002.
The affiliation switch happened on September 1, 2001. However, as the switch took place over the Labour Day long weekend, some changes resulting from the switch (e.g. the new 5-7am timeslot for CIVT's morning newscast) did not occur until the following Tuesday, September 4.
Several high-profile television journalists in the Vancouver market moved from one station to another — most notably, CIVT acquired CHAN's Bill Good and Pamela Martin to serve as its primary anchor team.
CIVT also adopted BC CTV as its on-air name. It is widely believed that this brand name was deliberately chosen to confuse viewers, as CHAN had previously been branded BCTV and still titled its newscasts "BCTV News on Global". CIVT changed its on-air name to simply CTV exactly 10 months later on July 1, 2002; CTV British Columbia (or, occasionally, CTV9) is used where disambiguation from the network or other CTV O&Os is warranted.
CHAN's local newscast had historically been the overwhelming ratings leader in the Vancouver market, leaving CIVT's news team in the position — rare for CTV — of having to build a reputation and an audience against the market dominance of another station. CIVT's news ratings rose significantly — although they remained far behind CHAN's, the station's newscasts did move from last place in the market to second place. CKVU, formerly the second-place newscast, lost approximately half of its audience and dropped to last place when it adopted the CityPulse format.
When CTV applied to purchase CHUM Limited in 2006, some media analysts speculated that CTV would switch the channel positions of CIVT and CKVU, giving CKVU's stronger VHF signal and its rebroadcasters to CIVT, and moving CKVU to the UHF channel. However, the CRTC excluded the Citytv stations from the transaction.
Across Canada, the most visible effects of the Vancouver realignment were the launch of Global National, Global's nightly newscast which aired from CHAN's studios in Vancouver; the integration of the former WIC-owned independent stations CHEK, CHCH and CJNT into CH; and the transformation of Citytv from a single independent station in Toronto into a fully-fledged television system.
CHAN had — and continues to have — a much larger network of rebroadcasters than CIVT, meaning that CTV lost almost all of its terrestrial coverage in British Columbia outside of the Greater Vancouver and Victoria area, and to this day still relies on cable television, not terrestrial transmitters, to reach most of the province. This gave a significant boost to Global, and a corresponding handicap to CTV, in national television ratings in the early 2000s. With CTV generally outspending Global on hit television series over the next number of years, however, this advantage had largely dissipated by 2006.
It also had some effects in the United States, where Bellingham, Washington's KVOS, which had previously carried some Citytv programming due to its proximity to Vancouver, lost this programming source now that Citytv had its own station in the market. KVOS was also bumped from its prime position on cable in both Vancouver and Victoria, to make room for CIVI, causing the station to lose significant market share in British Columbia.