CMT (Canadian TV channel)

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CMT 2017 logo.png
Broadcast areaNationwide
HeadquartersToronto, Ontario
Picture format1080i HDTV
(downscaled to letterboxed 480i for the SDTV feed)
OwnerBell Media (90%, managing partner)
Paramount Networks Americas (10%)
Sister channelsMuch
CTV Comedy Channel
LaunchedJanuary 1, 1995; 27 years ago (1995-01-01)
Former namesNew Country Network (1995–1996)
Country Music Television (1996–2006)

CMT is a Canadian English language specialty channel owned as a joint venture between Corus Entertainment (which owns a controlling 90% interest) and Paramount Networks Americas (which owns the remaining 10%), owners of the flagship CMT channel in the United States.

As with its U.S. counterpart, CMT previously devoted a large amount of its programming to country music, with such programming as music videos and concert specials. Over time, the channel shifted its focus towards family-oriented general entertainment, to the point where music programming was eventually axed in August 2017. It was sold to Bell Media on November 13, 2021.[citation needed]

It is one of three Paramount-branded channels that are owned by Bell; the companies also partner on MTV.


Prior to the launch of CMT Canada, the U.S.-based country television network, Country Music Television, had been available in Canada since 1984, one year after the channel's launch in the United States.[1]

In June 1994, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) licensed a series of new Canadian specialty television channels; among the ones whose licence was granted was The Country Network, whose programming provisions required it to primarily feature country music videos (a minimum of 90%). The licence was granted to a partnership between Maclean-Hunter (which owned 60% majority control) and Rawlco Communications (which owned the remaining 40%).[2]

At this time, the CRTC had a policy that if a Canadian specialty service was licensed and that service's format was competitive with a foreign service's format that was licensed to operate in Canada, the foreign service could be dropped from the list of channels eligible for cable carriage in Canada.[2] Due to Country Music Television's competitive format, the CRTC terminated CMT's eligibility rights in Canada as a foreign service on June 6, 1994.[3] Television distributors such as cable and satellite television operators could continue distributing Country Music Television until The Country Network began operations.[2]

In March 1994, one year before the channel's launch, Maclean-Hunter had been purchased by Rogers Communications.[4]

First and only New Country Network logo, used from 1995 to 1996
First CMT logo, used from 1996 to 2006

On January 1, 1995, the channel launched as New Country Network (NCN). On that date, Canadian pay television service providers were not allowed to offer Country Music Television.[5] In retaliation for being barred from Canada, the U.S. service launched a complaint under the North American Free Trade Agreement and ceased carriage of videos by Canadian artists without major U.S. record deals.[6]

Second CMT logo, used from 2006 to 2008
Third CMT logo, used from 2008 to 2010
Fourth CMT logo, used from 2010 to 2015
Fifth CMT logo, used from 2015 to 2021

After months of negotiations, the matter was settled when it was announced that CBS Cable, then owners of CMT, would purchase a minority stake in the service. NCN was relaunched as CMT on October 31, 1996, and the channel's headquarters were relocated from Calgary, Alberta to Toronto, Ontario.[6] The majority interest was acquired by Shaw Communications at the same time; it was later included in the spinoff of the broadcasting assets then owned by Shaw as Corus Entertainment in 1999. The controversy also resulted in an effective change to CRTC policy – if a foreign channel is already available in Canada and a new Canadian equivalent is subsequently licensed, cable providers are no longer required to drop the foreign service.

In 2016, as part of the removal of the genre protection rules, the CRTC approved the transition of CMT to its new standard conditions of license for discretionary services; these changes removed the requirement for CMT to air any music programming at all. Corus stated in its description of service for CMT that it would be devoted to comedy and reality programming, films, and "one of a kind music programming". Despite the changes, Corus must still invest at least 11% of CMT's annual gross revenue to fund the production of Canadian music videos, but they no longer necessarily have to be for country music videos.[7]

On August 28, 2017, as part of the 2017–18 broadcast season, CMT dropped all country music video programming from its schedule. The change in programming was widely criticized by stakeholders in Canada's country music industry, due to the loss of what had been a major promotional platform for Canadian performers; Corus stated that it would still promote Canadian country music through its other platforms (including its country music radio stations and some Global programming).[8][9]

It was then announced on June 10, 2021 that Corus had sold CMT to an unknown third party. On July 7, 2021, Corus announced that it would sell CMT to Bell Media, while ViacomCBS remains interest. Bell decided to change CMT from an ad-supported service to a commercial-free service, and relocate its headquarters from Corus Quay to 299 Queen Street West. The transaction required CRTC approval, which was approved on October 29, 2021.


When CMT was launched as New Country Network on January 1, 1995, the CRTC required that 90% of the station's programming consist of music videos.[10] The CRTC dropped that requirement to 70% on February 28, 2001, and reduced it even further to 50% on February 28, 2006.[11][12] With the retirement of genre protection rules in 2016, CMT was no longer required to air music videos, leading to the channel dropping music programming altogether the following year.

CMT's current programming consists primarily of acquired sitcoms, talk shows, game shows, reality shows, and lifestyle programming, along with reruns of Canadian-produced series sourced from Corus' sister networks to fulfill Canadian content obligations. In addition to shows sourced from its U.S counterpart, CMT previously produced its own original programming (such as Karaoke Star Jr., Tori & Dean: Cabin Fever, & The Wilkinsons), with the much of channel's country music-related programming hosted by Paul McGuire.

Programming blocks[edit]

  • CMT Comedy - From 2006 to 2021, CMT aired CMT Comedy, a genre that aired various comedy programming. The block closed after November 12, 2021, when the channel's ownership changed hands from Corus Entertainment to Bell Media.
  • Country music programming - From 1995 to 2017, CMT aired country music videos, but were removed from its schedule on August 28, 2017.

Former hosts/presenters[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Will country music videos set off culture war? Some facts to keep in mind as U.S. trade negotiators threaten retaliatory strikes". Toronto Star. 1995-02-11.
  2. ^ a b c "Decision CRTC 94-284". CRTC. 1994-06-06.
  3. ^ Larry LeBlanc (24 December 1994). A Breakthrough Year for Canadian Acts. Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 53–. ISSN 0006-2510.
  4. ^ THE MEDIA BUSINESS; Canadian Media Giants to Merge The New York Times 1994-03-09
  5. ^ "U.S. country TV drops Canadian videos". Toronto Star. 1995-01-10.
  7. ^ "Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2016-39". CRTC. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
  8. ^ "CMT Is Giving The Boot To Country Music". FYIMusicNews. 2017-08-23. Retrieved 2017-08-30.
  9. ^ "Canada's Country Music Television To Stop Playing Music Videos". Billboard. Retrieved 2017-08-30.
  10. ^ Decision CRTC 94-284
  11. ^ Decision CRTC 2001-154
  12. ^ Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2006-52
  13. ^ Fragomeni, Carmela (October 21, 2014). "Remembering CHCH's Nicola Jones". The Hamilton Spectator. ISSN 1189-9417. Retrieved 2021-08-25.

External links[edit]