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CFPL-TV Begins Broadcasting
CFPL-TV was one of the first private television stations in Canada when it went to air November 28th, 1953.
Within hours of signing on, a serious fire broke out in a downtown London dry cleaning plant. A news bulletin was flashed on the air and less than two hours later, film of the fire was broadcast to an amazed public.
Founder Walter Blackburn knew the potential of this 'radio with pictures.' Early personalities like Paul Soles, Mary Ashwell, Hope Garber and Miss Dorothy quickly became household names.
CFPL-TV News Leader
In the 1960s CFPL-TV became a leader in television broadcasting becoming the first station to air an hour-long newscast at 6 p.m.
In 1968, the station won three national awards including 'Station of the Year.' Programs like Hootenanny, Wingding, Act Fast and Sunshine School were very popular with the local viewing audience.
'Channel 10' as it was called, had the highest television tower in the nation at 911 feet, and was broadcasting in colour by the end of the decade.
Jack Burghardt anchored FYI News at 6 p.m. for much of the 1970s, while Bill Hutchings and Judy Savoy did the weather. Carol Campbell and Jim Swan entertained Londoners on Morning Break.
CFPL-TV founder Walter Blackburn spent the decade going on the defensive against Keith Davey’s Special Senate Committee on Mass Media.
Despite reservations, Davey admitted London was well served by the Blackburn family, who had a monopoly on London media.
The 1980s – The Fun Begins!
Change was the buzzword for CFPL-TV in the 1980s. Known as TV-London, the decade began with Eric Sorensen at the anchor desk with meteorologist Jay Campbell and Pete James with sports.
Eric's departure in 1983 opened the door for London’s first female news anchor. Kate Young anchored the news in the 1980s with Neil Stevens, Darrel MacGinnis, and Al McGregor.
The CFPL-TV building doubled in size in 1985 and by 1988 when the station broke ties with the CBC, the station adopted the slogan 'The Fun Begins.' But the fun was short-lived.
By the end of the decade CFPL-TV was losing money and owner Martha Blackburn was faced with a crisis.
1990s Blackburn to BBS to CHUM
CFPL-TV was owned by three different companies in the 1990s. Faced with losing millions of dollars, owner Martha Blackburn sold the independent station to BBS in 1993.
Three months later, Martha Blackburn died of a heart attack. BBS changed FYI to News Now, and hired sixty people. In 1995, one third of the staff were laid off.
In 1996, CHUM Television acquired the station and renamed it 'The New PL.' Anchors left their news desk behind.
A downtown location was opened at Covent Garden Market, Speakers Corner was launched and the CHUM Television Media Literacy Centre was opened.
By 2003, 50 years after CFPL-TV first signed on, the station continued to be the number one station in its market – a rare accomplishment for a local station in Canada.
CFPL-TV Even More Change
Early in the new millennium, Dan MacLellan assumed the news anchor duties – first with Kathy Mueller and then in 2008 with Tara Overholt.
In 2005, the station’s master control moved to Toronto. In August of the same year, CHUM announced the channel would be renamed A-Channel.
Less than a year later, CTV announced plans to purchase CHUM Limited. The deal was closed in the summer of 2007 and shortly thereafter the station was re-branded as /A\.
The station moved from analogue to digital broadcasting in 2011. The same year it was re-branded as CTV Two London.
Through all of this change, CFPL-TV remains London’s News Leader and the most watched TV station in the market.
CKNX-TV: CFPL's Sister Station
Among the first televisions stations in Canada. CKNX was built by W. T. "Doc" Cruickshank in Wingham, Ontario.
It signed on as a CBC Television affiliate on November 18, 1955. It’s rich history included live musical entertainment from country to rock and roll.
A fire in 1962 saw the station burn to the ground only to be rebuilt two years later. The station remained on the air serving viewers of mid-western Ontario until 2009 when the station closed after 54 years.