|Launched||September 1, 2000|
|Owned by||Bell Media|
|Picture format||1080i HDTV|
(downscaled to letterboxed 480i to the SDTV feed)
|Formerly called||TalkTV (2000–2006)|
|Bell TV||Channel 581 (SD)|
|Shaw Direct||Channel 566 (SD)|
Channel 185 (HD)
|Available on most cable systems||Channel slots vary on each provider|
|Bell Aliant Fibe TV||Channel 245 (SD)|
Channel 519 (HD)
|Bell Fibe TV||Channel 581 (SD)|
Channel 1573 (HD)
|Bell MTS||Channel 326 (SD)|
Channel 1326 (HD)
|Optik TV||Channel 9561 (SD)|
Channel 561 (HD)
|SaskTel||Channel 25 (SD)|
Channel 325 (HD)
|VMedia||Channel 52 (HD)|
|Zazeen||Channel 53 (SD)|
MTV is a Canadian pay television channel that is owned by Bell Media with the name and branding used under a licensing agreement with Viacom. The channel is devoted to talk, lifestyle and documentary programming, and also airs some scripted series.
The channel launched as TalkTV in 2000, but was not as widely available prior to its relaunch in March 2006. Unlike MTV channels in the U.S. and elsewhere, the channel is restricted in its ability to carry music videos and other music programming due to conditions in the channel's licence issued by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), thus it never used the tagline "Music Television" as did its international counterparts prior to 2010. MuchMusic, now a sister channel of the Canadian MTV channel, had been launched in 1984 as the Canadian channel dedicated to mainstream music.
MTV in Canada before 2006
CHUM Limited launched Canadian music channel MuchMusic in 1984, inspired by the success of MTV in the United States. CRTC genre exclusivity restrictions prevented MTV from either bringing its U.S. channel directly into Canada or launching a homegrown competitor. As a result, MTV was initially content to sell Canadian rights to its programming for rebroadcast on MuchMusic. However, relations between the two channels were strained in the mid-1990s when CHUM (in partnership with Cablevision's Rainbow Media) launched an American version of MuchMusic (later fully sold to Rainbow; now the independently-owned Fuse) in direct competition with MTV.
In October 2001, MTV partnered with Craig Media to launch MTV Canada as a digital cable channel. The channel in question had initially been licensed by the CRTC as "Connect," a broadly based teen-oriented channel, without MTV involvement. One of the conditions of licence was that a maximum of 10% of the schedule could be devoted to music videos and music programming. In 2003, CHUM filed a complaint with the CRTC alleging that MTV Canada was airing more music videos and music programming than allowed by its licence and had subsequently become competitive with MuchMusic. In Broadcasting Decision 2003-65, the CRTC found that MTV Canada was offering a music-based service rather than a broadly-based teen channel. Furthermore, the Commission found that MTV was broadcasting in excess of 10% music video clips and that MTV was not meeting its commitment to provide educational programming for teens, nor was it providing any programming from independent educational authorities. Craig was ordered to come into compliance with its broadcasting licence.
After CHUM purchased Craig in 2004, MTV Networks terminated the agreement with Craig; the contract had included a provision to cancel the agreement if there was a change in ownership. CHUM Limited was required to pay MTV Networks the remaining licensing fees which amounted to C$10 million. On June 30, 2005, MTV Canada was rebranded as Razer. CTVglobemedia purchased CHUM in 2007; subsequently, Razer was rebranded as MTV2 on August 1, 2008, making it once again an MTV-branded channel.
Talktv was licensed in 1996, but did not launch until four years later in 2000. TalkTV carried repeats of CTV talk shows, as well as a six-hour afternoon/evening program, The Chatroom, which aired every weekday until mid-2002, usually broadcast from the CTV-owned Masonic Temple in Toronto. The program featured future CTV network personalities Seamus O'Regan and Ben Mulroney, as well as Craig Norris (now at CBLA-FM-2 in Kitchener, Ontario) and Jennifer Hollett. In 1999, TalkTV also acquired the broadcast rights to Pamela Wallin Live, which formerly aired on CBC Newsworld. Upon its move, the program was renamed Pamela Wallin's TalkTV.
TalkTV had been licensed as an analogue channel, allowing cable companies to offer it without requiring a digital converter box, and was one of the last specialty channels to be launched with that status (all specialty channels licensed since 2001 have been specifically limited to digital distribution). However, it was not explicitly required to receive analog carriage either, provided the provider had already launched digital services. Due to this, combined with the channel's late launch and cable systems approaching capacity for analog channels, TalkTV was only available on digital programming tiers, aside from a handful of major markets such as Toronto.
Because of low ratings, and much more narrow distribution than other specialty channels, The Chatroom was cancelled in 2002, after which TalkTV became solely a repeat service for CTV network programming and repeated segments of The Chatroom. Ironically, this came just after the CRTC had granted it the right to charge 7¢ per subscriber when carried on basic cable, whereas it was previously made available to these viewers free of charge; the new charge had been expected to help sustain the channel's live programming.
The final program broadcast on TalkTV was that night's episode of eTalk Daily on March 20, 2006 at 11:30 p.m. Eastern Time; this was followed at midnight Eastern Time by a large, red MTV logo and an 18-hour countdown clock in preparation for the launch.
On September 28, 2005, CTV and MTV Networks announced that talktv would be relaunched as a new incarnation of MTV Canada, while continuing to maintain its licence requirement of "documentary programming" with over 68% Canadian content. Former MTV Networks executive Brad Schwartz was appointed as general manager of MTV Canada (Schwartz is now senior vice president and general manager of the Bell subsidiary MuchMTV Group). In the September 28 press release, CTV claimed to have applied for a Category 2 licence that would feature music videos, along the lines of the former MTV2 Canada (now Juicebox). The application is believed to have been abandoned.
CTV already had strong ties with MTV; it was the first broadcast network to air The Osbournes, which aired during prime time, uncensored and subsequently aired Punk'd and Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica. CTV's "exclusive" rights to MTV content meant that CHUM's MuchMusic lost all rights to MTV programming immediately following the announcement. CHUM released a statement saying that they would be intrigued as to how talktv could be morphed into MTV without violating its CRTC broadcasting licence, and filed a complaint with the CRTC. However, the CRTC was unable to take preemptive action based on a press release.
Since MTV uses the same broadcast licence CTV held for talktv, CTV is restricted by the following conditions of licence:
- an emphasis on talk programs
- a minimum of 68% of the daytime programming must be Canadian content
- a minimum of 71% of the prime time programming (6:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. Eastern Time) must be Canadian content
Prior to the relaunch, The Globe and Mail reported that the network would "... be quite different from what most people associate with the original American MTV, which has increasingly moved away from music videos toward reality shows and other original programming," placing a heavy emphasis on "talk and lifestyle shows". In a Canadian Press report, it was stated that while there could not be a Canadian version of the music-oriented Total Request Live, other spin-off programs were not out of the question. Canadian versions of MTV Cribs, Diary and Making the Video have already been produced.
Leading up to the launch, CTV aired the specials MTV Unplugged: Alicia Keys in early October 2005, and MTV's New Year of Music on December 31, 2005. In February 2006, MTV began promoting its launch date with a series of ads with the slogan "the drought ends 03.21.06," some of which appeared during various programs across Bell Globemedia's (now Bell Media) television platforms. Talktv's bug began periodically changing into an MTV logo to notify viewers of the coming change. On March 1, 2006, the network identifier on several program guides changed from "talktv" to "MTVCAN," additionally the sole program listed was "MTV is Coming," however this was not an actual program and the talktv schedule continued to air.
On February 20, 2006, CTV announced that the Masonic Temple in Toronto – which was previously home to Open Mike with Mike Bullard – would be the new home for MTV Canada and its new flagship show, MTV Live. This would be essentially a revival of the live-and-interactive talk show format introduced by the chatroom, with new hosts, the addition of a studio audience, field reports, and live performances. The actual relaunch occurred on March 21 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time, with the first edition of MTV Live.
The start of MTV Live was preceded (at 5:58:20 p.m. Eastern Time) by a ten-second countdown featuring water drops with "MTV drops" appearing at the end, followed by a 90-second promo featuring various people wearing beige MTV shirts falling out of the sky signifying that the drought was over, as seen in the launch promos. The relaunch as MTV did not affect the channel's analogue status. In fact, many analogue cable viewers that never had access to talktv were able to view the channel at, or soon after, its relaunch. Analogue coverage has been greatly expanded, and many channel placements improved, through new deals with Rogers Cable, Bell TV, Shaw Direct and other cable and satellite providers.
The channel held its official on-air launch party on April 18, 2006, with live performances by Kanye West and Sam Roberts. These performances were edited into several specials that are aired on CTV. On June 27, 2006, MTV Canada aired Making the Video for the first time (Ashlee Simpson's "Invisible"), but only showed a short clip of the video. Viewers were told to watch the rest of the video on the MTV website. Recently, episodes of Making the Video broadcast on the channel have included the full music video.
MTV HD is a high definition simulcast of MTV that broadcasts in the 1080i resolution format; the feed was launched on June 4, 2013 on Eastlink. The HD feed is also available nationally on Bell Fibe TV and Telus Optik TV, and regionally on Cogeco Cable and Rogers Cable.
The Canadian version of MTV carries most of the reality television series that currently dominate the schedule of its U.S. counterpart. However, music-based programming is largely absent from the channel, because the original broadcasting licence issued for talktv did not allow for any music programming. Moreover, the existence of MuchMusic as Canada's longstanding mainstream music channel (and the accompanying genre protection from direct competition) meant that MTV could not have requested a new format enabling it to compete directly with MuchMusic in any event.
As a result, MTV in Canada has been much more restricted in its ability to show music based programs, and the MTV logo used by MTV in Canada had never included the tagline "Music Television," unlike other MTV-branded channels around the world (however, MTV in the United States would phase out the tagline by 2010, as it too would also begin focusing less on music-related programming). However, since mid-2007, MuchMusic and its affiliated channels including MuchMore have been under the same ownership as MTV in Canada, following CTVglobemedia's acquisition of CHUM Limited, making the former rival networks present-day sister channels.
Nearly all of the reality, documentary and lifestyle programs carried by MTV U.S. airs on MTV Canada, although newer episodes often air several weeks after their initial airing in the U.S. Some programs have been aired on a day/date/time basis with MTV U.S., mostly during special presentations such as the MTV Movie Awards. However, seasons 3 and 3.5 of The Hills aired in simulcast with the U.S. channel. The Canadian-produced Hills Aftershow became available to American viewers at this time. On the other hand, MTV's scripted programming, such as Teen Wolf and Awkward., did not begin airing on the Canadian channel until the fall of 2013.
Since its launch, MTV Canada has aired the annual MTV Movie Awards as a simulcast with MTV U.S. However, the MTV Video Music Awards did not air on the network until 2013, airing in simulcast with MuchMusic. The ceremony aired on sister network CTV in 2006 and 2007, but returned to MuchMusic in 2008.
The "10 Spot" is the channel's hour-long primetime block of MTV reality and lifestyle series airing weeknights at 10:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific Time. New, as well as returning series premiere on the block on a monthly basis. Branded after the former block on the U.S. channel, the "10 Spot" schedule often resembles that featured on the MTV channel in the United States, although the programs are often aired several weeks behind their initial broadcast in the U.S.
During afternoon and prime time commercial breaks, MTV hosts direct discussions about the shows that are currently airing on the channel. Viewers are encouraged to interact with MTV and its hosts through emails at email@example.com, and via telephone at 866-536-LIVE (866-536-5483). These short interstitials are used as a way of fulfilling the talk programming requirements under the channel's license.
MTV on CTV
CTV airs a late-night block of MTV programming branded as "MTV on CTV," airing on Saturdays from 12:05 to 2:05 a.m. local time (actual times may vary by location or station). Programming featured in the block includes several of the music-oriented and comedy programs that MTV Canada itself cannot air as well as many of the reality/lifestyle shows that are shown on MTV. A half-hour weeknight block aired at 1:05 a.m. local time from MTV Canada's 2006 relaunch until September 7, 2007, when it was replaced by TMZ on TV.
At the time of launch in March 2006, the channel's website was branded as MTV Overdrive. This brand was dropped in early 2007, months after MTV U.S. had dropped the Overdrive name for its website, which it began simply calling MTV.com. In June 2007, the site was redesigned, and was once again facelifted in March 2009 to refocus the website on its video content.
- Decision CRTC 96-612, September 4, 1996
- https://web.archive.org/web/20060224092804/http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20060221.MTV21/TPStory/TPEntertainment/. Archived from the original on February 24, 2006. Missing or empty
- "2006 MTV VMA's to air on CTV". CTV. Archived from the original on 2008-05-04. Retrieved 2008-12-13.
- Pegley, Kip (2009), Coming to you wherever you are: MuchMusic, MTV, and youth identities, Wesleyan Univ. Press, ISBN 0819568694