|Private (subsidiary of Northern Cable/CUC Broadcasting)|
Mid-Canada Television, or MCTV, was created in 1980 when Cambrian Broadcasting, which owned the CTV affiliates in Sudbury, North Bay and Timmins merged with J. Conrad Lavigne's CBC affiliates in the same cities.
This twinstick structure was permitted by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission because both companies were on the brink of bankruptcy due to their aggressive competition for limited advertising dollars in small markets. Notably, the companies' holdings included two parallel microwave transmission systems, both of which were among the largest such systems in the world at the time, and which were technically redundant since one system can in fact carry multiple channels.
The deal represented the first time that the CRTC had ever approved direct ownership of a radio or television broadcast outlet by a cable distribution company, which is now commonplace in Canada but was explicitly forbidden by CRTC policy prior to the MCTV approval.
In its decision, however, the CRTC explicitly communicated the expectation that this would exist only as a temporary arrangement, to end as soon as the CBC could afford to directly acquire MCTV's CBC affiliates. That "temporary" deal, however, would last 22 years. Mid-Canada Communications did offer ownership of its newly-redundant second microwave network to the CBC as an interim step toward the establishment of a CBC Television production facility in the region; the CBC, however, expressed interest in keeping the negotiations open but declined to immediately purchase the system.
In response to concentration of media ownership concerns, the merged company divested itself of its predecessor companies' radio holdings CKSO and CIGM-FM in Sudbury, although it retained ownership of a couple of smaller-market radio stations and would later reacquire other radio stations in the region (see Mid-Canada Radio below.)
The MCTV stations were:
- North Bay - CKNY (CTV), CHNB (CBC)
- Sudbury - CICI (CTV), CKNC (CBC)
- Timmins - CITO (CTV), CFCL (CBC)
All six stations were referred to on air as MCTV rather than by their callsigns. The stations were distinguished from each other by use of their network affiliation (i.e. "MCTV-CTV" and "MCTV-CBC".)
As well, MCTV owned CHRO in Pembroke, a CBC affiliate in a market with no other television stations. CHRO used the same logo and programming schedule as MCTV's other stations, but it used its own callsign, rather than MCTV, as its on-air identification.
In 1985, Mid-Canada Communications acquired six radio stations in Sudbury, Elliot Lake, Blind River and Espanola, which were aligned with the company's existing radio holdings in Kapuskasing, Hearst, Timmins and Pembroke into the Mid-Canada Radio group. The system expanded in the latter half of the 1980s, with further acquisitions in Sault Ste. Marie, Wawa, North Bay and another station in Kapuskasing bringing the group to 15 stations by 1990.
- Blind River - CJNR
- Elliot Lake - CKNR
- Espanola - CKNS
- Hearst - CFLH
- Kapuskasing - CFLK, CKAP
- North Bay - CHUR
- Pembroke - CHRO
- Sault Ste. Marie - CKCY, CJQM
- Sudbury - CFBR, CHNO, CJMX
- Timmins - CFCL
- Wawa - CJWA
The stations shared some news and sales resources, but were programmed independently of each other except for two shared overnight programs: one for the francophone stations (CFBR, CFLK, CFLH and CFCL), and one for the anglophone stations (all others).
In 1990, Northern Cable began divesting itself of its media properties. Pelmorex purchased Mid-Canada Radio, and Baton Broadcasting acquired MCTV. Baton also purchased Sault Ste. Marie's Huron Broadcasting in 1990, and converted CHBX and CJIC to the MCTV branding as well.
Under Baton's ownership, the stations retained the MCTV branding, and became part of the Baton Broadcast System. The CBC stations were eventually sold outright to CBC in 2002, while the CTV stations were rebranded as CTV Northern Ontario in 2003.
- "Northern Cable seeks control of TV systems". The Globe and Mail, September 20, 1979.
- "CRTC approves amalgamation of Northern Ontario TV firms". The Globe and Mail, February 29, 1980.
- "Bid to buy cable-TV firms sparks controversy". The Globe and Mail, October 30, 1979.
- "Merger plan of television firms criticized at Sudbury hearing". The Globe and Mail, December 5, 1979.
- "Sudbury Radio History Highlights". Sudbury Living, July 23, 2013.
- "Shuffle of radio stations proposed". The Globe and Mail, October 13, 1984.
- Decision CRTC 85-146
- Decision CRTC 90-676
- Decision CRTC 90-1074
- Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2002-303