The station signed on in 1967 as the first television station in northern Canada, and the first station to be part of the CBC's Frontier Coverage Package; satellite delivery of colour television began in 1973.
Prior to 2011, the station was licensed by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission as a "radiocommunication distribution undertaking," meaning that for regulatory purposes it was not a true television station, but merely a transmitter that redistributed CBC North. The CRTC formally relicensed it as a full television station in February 2011.
CFYK-TV switched to digital broadcasting, flash cutting on VHF 8 (originally VHF 7) with a PSIP of 8.1 on August 1, 2012. However, the CBC was not obligated to convert or close down this station, as no part of the Northwest Territories is designated as a mandatory market for digital conversion.
CFYK had 9 analog television rebroadcasters in the Northwest Territories. Additionally, CFWH-TV in Whitehorse and CFFB-TV in Iqaluit, though operating as semi-satellites of CFYK with their own networks of rebroadcasters, were actually licensed as rebroadcasters of CFYK.
Due to federal funding reductions to the CBC, in April 2012, the CBC responded with substantial budget cuts, which included shutting down CBC's and Radio-Canada's remaining analog transmitters on July 31, 2012. None of CBC or Radio-Canada's rebroadcasters were converted to digital. The only known translators in Arctic Canada that are known to still be in service are owned and operated by local community groups or local governments. However, few residents in Arctic Canada lost access to CBC programming due to the very high penetration of cable and satellite television, which are all but essential for acceptable television in this remote area.