CBC North

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CBC North
Type Broadcast radio network
Television system
Country Canada
Owner Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Key people
Hubert Lacroix, president
Launch date
1958 (radio)
1973 (television)
Former names
CBC Northern Service
Official website
CBC North

CBC North is the name for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's radio and television service in Northern Canada. Originally known as the CBC Northern Service, its first operations began in 1958 with radio broadcasts (including the takeover of CFYK—originally a Royal Canadian Signal Corps-owned, community-run station in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, which began broadcasting in 1948). Around the same time, the CBC took over CHFC in Fort Churchill (then an army camp in northern Manitoba); the station had previously run a variety of programs, including American AFRS shows. Peter Mansbridge is its most distinguished alumnus. The station in Churchill was closed in the late 1970s and moved to Rankin Inlet as CBQR-FM.

CFFB began operation in Frobisher Bay (now known as Iqaluit, Nunavut) on February 6, 1961. The service initially consisted of local programming in Inuktitut, English and French, along with news and other programs from the CBC network received via shortwave. With the advent of the Anik series of satellites, Inuktitut and English radio programming from CFFB became accessible in most Eastern Arctic communities.


CBC North Radio carries daily aboriginal language programming in Dene Suline, Tlicho, North and South Slavey, Gwich'in, Inuvialuktun and Inuktitut. The shows include news, weather and entertainment, providing a vital service to the many people in Northern Canada for whom English is not their first language.


In the Yukon, the regular CBC Radio One schedule in English is aired on CFWH. CFWH is, however, the only station in the network which uses the Saturday afternoon between 5:05 and 6:00 p.m. local arts program block to air the French language program "Rencontres",[1] as the territory outside Whitehorse is not served by an Ici Radio-Canada Première production centre or a local francophone community radio station. Whitehorse is served locally by CFWY-FM 102.1, a repeater of CBUF-FM Vancouver, owned locally by the Association Franco-Yukonnaise.[2]

Northwest Territories[edit]

In the Northwest Territories, afternoon programming is pre-empted; instead, CBC North airs special afternoon programming in First Nations languages. On CFYK in Yellowknife, which serves the southern part of the territory, the afternoon schedule is as follows:

  • 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. – Tide Godi, Dogrib
  • 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. – Le Got'she deh, Slavey
  • 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. – Dene Dayalt'i, Dene Suline

On CHAK in Inuvik, which serves the northern Beaufort Delta area, afternoon programs include Nantaii in Gwich'in from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. The Northwest Territories otherwise hears the usual CBC Radio One schedule.


In Nunavut, greater differences occur on CFFB. The Nunavut service is the only local or regional CBC Radio service which covers three time zones (Eastern, Central and Mountain). The local morning program, Qulliq (broadcast in Inuktitut and English segments), airs from 6 to 10 a.m. and is followed by abbreviated broadcasts of The Current and Q. At noon a bilingual program, Nipivut, airs in Inuktitut and English. In the afternoons, programming is in Inuktitut and includes Tausunni from Iqaluit, Tuttavik from Kuujjuaq and Tusaajaksat from Rankin Inlet. During the evenings, Ullumi Tusaqsauqaujut presents highlights from the day's Inuktitut programs at 10 p.m. Eastern. At 10:30 p.m. Eastern Sinnaksautit features traditional Inuit storytelling. The nighttime edition of Q follows Sinnaksautit, after the 11 p.m. news. The CBC Radio One network schedule continues through the night.

The Nunavut program service also carries a CBC North regional live music program called The True North Concert Series on Saturday afternoons at 5 pm Eastern Time. TNCS features concert recordings from across the three northern territories. There is also a music request show for youth, which airs on Sunday afternoons at 3 pm Eastern Time.


In the Nunavik region of Nord-du-Québec, the program service from Nunavut is heard on a network of low-power FM transmitters,[3] with some program differences. Weekday mornings from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. Quebec AM from CBVE-FM Quebec City is heard, and a repeat of Tuttavik from CBC in Kuujjuaq airs in the evening. Some programs can also be heard on CBFG-FM Chisasibi, which offers selected programs from Ici Radio-Canada Première and CBC Radio One, as well as regional programs in Cree and Inuktitut.

On October 5, 2012, the CBC was licenced to add FM transmitters in Kuujjuaq, which would broadcast at 105.1 MHz with an effective radiated power (ERP) of 50 watts (non-directional antenna with an effective height of antenna above average terrain (EHAAT) of 9.3 meters); and Kuujjuarapik, which would operate at 105.1 MHz with an ERP of 50 watts (EHAAT of 30.1 meters). The CBC indicated that since there is currently no coverage in those areas, it wishes to extend to those areas the service of the then-Première Chaîne (now Ici Radio-Canada Première) into the region, via originating station CBFG-FM Chisasibi.[4]

On October 30, 2012, the CBC received approval to change the source of programming on these transmitters from CBF-FM Montreal to CBFG Chisasibi:[5][6]

  • CBFA-FM-1 Manouane
  • CBFA-FM-2 Obedjiwan
  • CBFW-FM Wemindji
  • CBFM-FM Mistassini
  • CBFA-3 Weymontachie
  • CBFH-FM Waskaganish
  • CBFV-FM Waswanipi

In December 2012, the CBC filed an application to convert two AM transmitters to the FM band:

  • Chisasibi (Fort-George), Quebec 92.3 FM.[7]
  • Weymontachie, Quebec 750 AM CBFA-3 to 92.3 FM; approved April 23, 2013[8]

Shortwave service[edit]

CBC Radio Nord Québec also operated a shortwave service, transmitted from the Radio Canada International (RCI) transmitter in Sackville, New Brunswick, on 9625 kHz with 100 kW and programmed from the CBC studios in Montreal. This shortwave service was shut down December 1, 2012 and replaced by five low powered FM transmitters broadcasting on 103.5 FM from Puvirnituq, Kuujjuarapik, Inukjuak, Salluit and Kuujjuaq.[9]

Two CBC Radio One stations, CFGB-FM in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador (with call sign CKZN) and CBU in Vancouver, British Columbia (with call sign CKZU) operate shortwave relay transmitters, but neither transmitter site has the ability to reach the Arctic with usable signals year-round.

During the 1960s, the CBC Northern Service featured a mailbag program on Saturday evenings entitled The Northern Messenger. Since mail delivery was rare in the north, letters were sent to the CBC studios in Montreal and read on the air to listeners in far-flung settlements.[10]

With RCI ending shortwave broadcasting due to CBC budget cuts, and the end of CBC's Northern Quebec shortwave service from CKCX-SW in Sackville, New Brunswick, the future of the Northern Quebec shortwave service is in doubt.

Reception issues[edit]

Both Radio One transmitters broadcast 1 kW ERP. These shortwave relays can be difficult to receive, due to increased terrestrial noise from electrical and electronic systems. Also, nighttime broadcasting on 9625 kHz is difficult due to interference from Radio Exterior de España, which uses that frequency at night for transmission to North America.


Screenshot of CBC North station identification
CBC North ident, September 1998

The primary CBC North television production centre is CFYK-DT in Yellowknife, with local news bureaus located in Hay River, Inuvik, Whitehorse and Iqaluit. The CBC North television service is seen through a network of community-owned rebroadcasters in some communities in the Northwest Territories, the Yukon, and Nunavut. Up until July 31, 2012, the CBC owned and operated many rebroadcasters in the Canadian Arctic, which combined with community rebroadcasters ensured coverage to a vast majority of communities in the North; these rebroadcasters shut down on that date due to budget cuts mandated by the CBC, with only the transmitters owned by local governments or community organisations remaining in operation.[11][12] Among the rebroadcasters affected by the closure were CFWH-TV in Whitehorse and CFFB-TV in Iqaluit. Although they operated as semi-satellites with their own associated rebroadcasters, they were licensed as rebroadcasters of CFYK. However, few people in the Arctic lost access to CBC programming due to the high penetration of cable and satellite, which are all but essential for acceptable television in much of the area.

CBC North is essentially a television system within the larger CBC Television network, airing the same programming as the main network (with some exceptions). Until 2011, the CBC North stations were not licensed as television stations, but merely as transmitters used to redistribute CBC North's satellite feed.

The station airs an hour-long evening news program known as CBC News: Northbeat, anchored by Randy Henderson. It was the sole local newscast that was not merged into Canada Now from 2000 to 2006.

A daily newscast in Inuktitut, Igalaaq, is also aired at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time, again at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time in Nunavut and at 4 and 5:30 p.m. in the Northwest Territories with anchor Madeleine Allakariallak. Allakariallak took over from host Rassi Nashalik after Nashalik retired in 2014. A weekly Cree newsmagazine, Maamuitaau, also airs on CBC North TV. These programs also aired on APTN before that channel launched its own news operation.

Unlike the other owned-and-operated CBC stations, CBC North airs few local ads, instead airing additional promotions for other CBC programs and public-service announcements.

There are two CBC North television feeds: one for the NWT and Nunavut on a Mountain Time schedule and another for the Yukon on Pacific Time. All local CBC North programs originate from Yellowknife and other Arctic locales. Viewers with C-Band dishes used to enjoy CBC North in the clear until about 2000 when the CBC switched to a proprietary digital system, requiring a C$3000 receiver.

Before the change to digital transmission, the two CBC North TV satellite feeds originated in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador (which was seen in the Eastern Arctic) and Vancouver, British Columbia, (which was seen in the NWT and the Yukon). Those channels carried regional programs originating in those areas to the north. With the new digital transmission system (now centralised at CBC Television's headquarters in Toronto), the north no longer sees the regional east-coast and west-coast programs. Prior to this centralisation, the CBC North feed also doubled as the main network feed for CBC Television's owned-and-operated stations and affiliates, with local commercials, news programs and, in some cases, syndicated programming and other local shows, replacing CBC North programming and material.

Some US communities offer CBC North on cable or low-powered TV.


The CBC Northern Service was a significant source of musical recordings of Inuit and First Nations artists in the 1970s and 1980s. After beginning Inuktitut- and Cree-language broadcasting in northern Quebec, the service saw the need for more musical content. Initially recorded on cassettes, which were of little use to many of the broadcasting stations, the Northern Service began producing vinyl 45 RPM records in 1973. The first session produced singles by Charlie Panigoniak and Mark Etak. A 1975 session recorded singles from Sugluk, from Salluit, Quebec. The late 1970s saw the Northern Service's recording budget increased. Artists were now flown in for professional recording sessions at the CBC's Montreal offices. Over 120 recordings were made in this period by artists including Morley Loon, William Tagoona, Willie Thrasher, and Alanis Obomsawin. In the mid-1980s, production was moved to Ottawa. The final sessions recorded by the service were in 1986.[13][14]

Some of these recordings were remastered by Kevin "Sipreano" Howes for the 2014 compilation album Native North America, Vol. 1.[15]


  1. ^ http://www.afy.yk.ca/secteurs/main/fr/index.php?location=m249&secteur=1&classification=0&event=85
  2. ^ CRTC Decision 2003-534.
  3. ^ Brodadcasting Decision CRTC 2012-602, 30 October 2012
  4. ^ Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2012-538, CBFG-FM Chisasibi – Addition of transmitters, CRTC, October 5, 2012
  5. ^ Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2012-599 CBFG-FM Chisasibi – New transmitters and revocation of licences, CRTC, October 30, 2012
  6. ^ Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2012-602-1 CFFB Iqaluit – New transmitters in Puvirnituq, Kuujjuarapik, Inukjuak, Salluit and Kuujjuaq (Fort Chimo) – Correction, CRTC, November 5, 2012
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ CBFG-FM Chisasibi – New transmitter in Weymontachie, CRTC, April 23, 2013
  9. ^ Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2012-602 CFFB Iqaluit – New transmitters in Puvirnituq, Kuujjuarapik, Inukjuak, Salluit and Kuujjuaq (Fort Chimo), CRTC, October 30, 2012
  10. ^ Lorna Roth, Something new in the air: the story of First Peoples television broadcasting in Canada. McGill-Queen's Press, 2005, p. 67
  11. ^ Speaking notes for Hubert T. Lacroix regarding measures announced in the context of the Deficit Reduction Action Plan
  12. ^ Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2012-384, July 17, 2012.
  13. ^ Keillor, Elaine; Archambault, Tim; Kelly, John M H (2013). Encyclopedia of Native American Music of North America. Santa Barbara, California: Greenwood. pp. 246–247. ISBN 9780313336003. 
  14. ^ Linttell, Perry. "The history of CBC Northern Service recordings" (PDF). Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved November 27, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Native North America Vol 1 review – a goldmine of forgotten fusions". The Guardian, November 23, 2014.

External links[edit]