Radio became highly popular in the 1930s in Canada. A heated debate in the parliament helped Prime Minister Mackenzie King to set up a commission to create Canadian broadcasting system. Canada’s first network broadcast was in 1927. King addressed the nation from Parliament Hill. His speech gave indication that radio could be a valuable way for communication. It also deeply influenced his political career. Educational broadcasting was developed both at the federal and provincial level. This was marked by tension between the two jurisdictions.
This paper studies the history of educational broadcasting in Canada.
In 1927 the University of Alberta’s Department of extension was given the license to operate the radio station CKUA. By 1944 the Department of Telephones purchased and operated the station with the university retaining the license. The university also provided the programming for a fixed number of hours a day. The federal government in 1946 stated that broadcasting would be the responsibility of the government (Samuel, 1975). Educational broadcasts on radio began in 1940 after the Carnegie Foundation donated a grant of five thousand dollars to the B.
C Department of Education.
Its purpose was to study the use of broadcasting in rural education. A school broadcasting department was created which ran programs for Grades 1 through 8. The CBC provided the crews while the Department of education provided the creative elements of the program. The service offered programs in music, science and history. It was later expanded to include the Western provinces of Canada. Educational radio began in Ontario in 1949. The Announcing and Radio Production course at the Ryerson Institute of Technology was operating the CJRT-FM. The station provided educational services to schools and the public.
The license was help up to 1972. The general university budget had the CJRT funded as a special budget (Samuel, 1975). The government recognized the importance of electronic communications in Quebec. A bill regarding radio broadcasting was passed on March 1945. However nothing could be achieved because of a serious dispute between the federal and provincial government. The Department of Education began producing two hour radio programs in Nova Scotia in 1928. This was done in association with Halifax station CHMS. English, French, History, Music and Drama were the subjects discussed in the broadcast.
Performers and actors also participated in the program. The programs were intended to support teachers. Formal educational radio programs were broadcast in 1942 by a national advisory council. These educational programs were based on the provincial curricula. They were produced in cooperation with education authorities in the various provinces. These policies reflected the constitutional position regarding the division of powers between the federal and provincial governments. The first experimental educational television broadcasts began in 1954.
The CBC was associated with Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Television broadcasts were designed to be used by students and teachers. They consisted of instructions and formal educational programs which were linked directly with the provincial curricula. These educational programs were beneficial for the provincial communities. The Metropolitan Educational Association was formed in 1959 to use television broadcasting to serve the educational needs of Toronto. The CBLT in Toronto and CHCH in offered Hamilton Formal university courses.
General educational programs like Two For Physics and The Nature of Things were highly popular. CBC television also presented sixty half hours programs each year for in school use. A yearly series of half hour programs called University of the Air was broadcasted each week during the 1960s. Studios were also connected with classrooms and laboratories using closed circuit television (Toogood, 1969). Channel 19 in Toronto was reserved for educational purposes in 1961. An educational television section was established in 1965 by the Ontario Minister of Education. This section was within the Curriculum Branch of the Ministry.
There were plans for educational television. Ontario’s department of education applied for a license to open an educational television station. However the federal government refused the license. However a compromise was reached between the CBC and Ontario government. The CBC was allowed to apply to the new regulatory agency for broadcasting license on behalf of the Ontario Department of Education. Audio visual materials were made by Radio Quebec which was an audio visual production house. During the late 1960s it expanded its production to distribution of its materials.
The Calgary and Regional Educational Television Association was incorporated in 1967. Closed circuit channels from the Instructional Television Fixed Service Band were used to transmit programs to 25 Calgary locations (Toogood, 1969). Memorial University in Newfoundland is a leading producer and distributor of educational television programs since the 1960s. It has produced programs for closed circuit use on university campuses. It has also produced programs for the university’s education division. It has contributed in using television for distance education and teleconferencing.
Educational television programs were designed by the Nova Scotia’s Department of Education to teachers and students. Production facilities have been owned by the CBC. The Department of Education has produced the programs. Video tapes have been developed for provinces. Teachers have also been provided these video tapes for classroom use. Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick have used video tape and film for educational purposes (Toogood, 1969). The 1960s saw a renewed interest in the development of national educational television service. The Canadian Radio-Television Commission was established in 1968.
Educational broadcasting came under the jurisdiction of the Commission. The Canadian Educational Broadcasting Agency was established by the introduction of bill C-179. The agency held licenses and operated educational broadcasting facilities. The provincial authorities were responsible for production and programming. The federal government was responsible for transmission of the programs. The bill was withdrawn due to provincial pressure. The Quebec Broadcasting Bureau Act effectively updated an unused 1945 act on Radio Quebec. The act proposed broader powers than the proposed Federal bill C-179.
The federal bill was not passed. This ended the phase for the establishment of a national education service. Ontario and Alberta pressured the federal government for the establishment of a provincially owned and operated educational television service. An interim government specified that the CBC would provide educational facilities and provincial educational communications authorities provide the programming. Broadcasting received undertaking under the regulatory power of the CRTC. At least one channel was obliged to make available for educational programming (Twomey, 1978).
Provincial educational television was developed by TVOntario and Radio-Quebec in the 1970s. The CBC was awarded a license to act as an agent for the Ontario Ministry of Education by the CRTC. This also led to Channel 19 to become the first UHF channel in Canada. Educational television services used any format and program. Entertaining broadcast schedules were developed by the provincial educational television. This led to them breaking out of the lecture format. There was much criticism and opposition from conventional broadcasters.
The right of the provincial authorities to decide what is educational has been upheld by the CRTC (Twomey, 1978). In 1972 the OECA applied for a broadcasting license. The OECA is a crown corporation that reports to the provincial legislature through a minister. The policy is made by the independent Board of Directors appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. There is no direct government involvement in policy or programming decisions. The OECA distributes programs through video tape and their utilization in class rooms. New electronic technologies have been developed and used in marketing and utilization.
Services have also been extended since 1973. Programs have also been sent to cable systems. TVOntario has become a popular broadcasting service. It has provided British dram, classic movies, documentaries and talk shows. It has become an appreciated public broadcasting services for Ontario citizens. French language programming has also been a part of the TVO broadcast. A separate service for the French community was initiated during the 1980s. Advertising is not carried on the English and French service. Funding comes from government grants and sale of programs (Twomey, 1978). CJRT-FM also evolved in the 1970s.
Ryerson’s funding was changed by the Ministry of Colleges and Universities. There was no allowance for the radio station. There were announcements that the CJRT would cease its operations. However political activity saved the station. In 1973 the CJRT-FM was established as a separate and independent corporation. The CJRT-FM was a private non profit corporation and had its own independent Board of Directors. The station provided some university level courses. However most of its program content was classical and jazz music. Radio Quebec distinguished itself from other television services.
It adhered to the concept of educational programming but did not bind itself by any federal definition. Education was part of culture and its main objective was to influence the culture of Quebec. During the 1970s a schedule of television programs was distributed directly into the cable facilities in Quebec City. During this time two UFH television stations were also established. Over the years the use of satellite distribution to transmitters to cable was initiated. Tele-Quebec has tried to reflect the culture of Quebec in the province’s regional aspects. Quebec has its own educational television broadcasting.
Program formats are offered without contextualization. The Alberta government announced the setup of an Alberta Educational Communications Corporation in 1972. Two local educational television projects were taken by the corporation. It reported directly to the government. The provincial government was responsible for funding the television service and CKUA radio. ACCESS Network radio broadcasted at least twelve percent of its programming for education. The service has provide mix of music, news and community oriented programs. Programs were mainly formal educational programs designed for classroom use.
It also began to act as the purchasing and distributor of audio visual material for the education sector (Foster, 1982) The Saskatchewan Educational Communications Corporation was created in 1974. It became known as the SaskMedia. The corporation provided audio visual and distribution service to the Ministry of Education. The 1980s saw increase success for provincial educational television services. Signal distribution increased the coverage via satellites to cable. Formal and informal educational programs were delivered to cable companies throughout the province by ACCESS Network television.
The schedule consisted of English language provincial services. There was a mix of children programs, school programs, British dramas, classic movies and talk. CKUA and CJRT-FM were educational radio services established themselves by mixing classical music, jazz and talk. CKUA enjoyed government funding. The CJRT had to sell advertising and use other sources for revenue generation. Saskatchewan in the 1980s still had no prospects of educational television. However in 1984 the University of Regina delivered credit courses to five centers. This instruction service was expanded in the succeeding years.
They were offered by a new agency, Saskatchewan Communications Network. It offered two educational television services. Formal services for closed circuit from the University of Regina and traditional educational services were offered for the general public. The Knowledge Network of the West Communications Authority (KNOW) was established in 1980 by a Cabinet Minute under the Societies Act of British Columbia. This was a public television service. It provided institutional and formal education system. It provided services which were complementary to the system.
All programs were supported and developed by educational institutions and the government. Atlantic Canada in the 1980s also saw pressure for the creation of educational television. The CRTC in 1980 called for extension of services to remote communities. The Atlantic Television Network established the ATV-2. This was an alternative service providing satellite for cable television in the Atlantic region. It would broadcast four hours of educational programs on weekdays. It has become a provider of post secondary learning opportunities in the region (Foster, 1982).
Manitoba has seen little activity in the development of provincial educational television. The province has used the CBC as the main public broadcasting service. The department of education in Manitoba cooperated with the CBC in providing schools programming. The 1990s was a decade of steady growth for educational television. Direct to home satellites made educational services available to the entire populations. The services were extended to the entire country. Other provincial educational television services like ACCESS, the Knowledge Network and SCN also expanded their educational services in the provinces.
TVOntario and Tele-Quebec faced some government cutbacks but this did not impact their educational broadcasting services. The 1990s changed the situation for educational television service in British Columbia. The Open Learning Agency of British Colombia was established. It dedicated its segments to the college, university and school learning. New electronic systems were used to effectively deliver distance learning services throughout the province. The Knowledge Network became part of the Open Learning Agency. It also maintained a connection with the formal courses.
Traditional education television evolved with children’s programming, British drama, documentary and talk shows (Rosen, 2002). The SCN in Saskatchewan developed a program schedule which funded and broadcasted locally produced documentaries. This reflected the local character and priorities of the province. These services were distributed by satellite to cable systems across the province. Funding came from yearly government grants. In Atlantic Canada educational services were provided by the ATV-2 network. Various universities in Alberta Canada use formal credit course for broadcast on this service.
In Alberta provincial educational television and radio changed in the 1990s. In 1995 a new ACCESS television was introduced. It provided a new programming and business model. The look and style were also modern and youthful. There was a broader range of popular programming. Revenues were generated through the sale of broadcast air time. Educational products and services were also sold. Non commercial pre school programming was broadcasted in the morning. There was also a mix of non commercial ministry programs and US produced drama and movies. Traditional documentaries and magazine shows were also shown in the evening.
Programs from the US were also broadcasted (Rosen, 2002). Specialty television in the 1990s was undergoing some rapid extension. Development work for a Canadian national educational television service was begun in 1991. The Canadian Learning Television was established. It was an adult oriented educational service emphasizing lifelong learning. It included two provincial educational broadcasters. Canadian Learning Television is Canada’s only national educational television broadcaster. It was launched in September 1999. It has financed specialty services by cable subscriber fees and commercial advertising.
It works with universities and colleges. It also works with provincial educational broadcasters (Rosen, 2002). The twenty first century has seen provincial educational television services, radio services and national educational television performing very well. Despite fears of privatization this has not yet materialized. Radio and Television have become an important part of Canadian life. They have offered entertainment and education for thousands of Canadians. Canada’s educational broadcasting services have provided programming to its varied audiences. There have been feelings of loyalty and connection with these services.
The appeal of educational broadcasting has been increasing in Canada. High quality educational programming has been provided which has been instrumental in spreading literacy. It has also helped in providing distance learning services to remote communities. Educational broadcasting has helped in responding to specific provincial needs and realities. Educational broadcasting has come a long way since its genesis. Formal and informal educational services have helped spread knowledge and enlightenment to many communities in Canada. They are an essential part of Canada’s cultural policy.