Moment #2: CFTO
Lights, cameras and Toronto’s first private television station
On January 1, 1961 – with the flip of a switch – Toronto’s first privately-owned television station, CFTO, brightened the city’s living rooms. But before the cameras rolled in the Agincourt studios, a high-stakes story played out behind the scenes. The licence for CFTO would be one of the most competitive bids in Canadian broadcast history, with powerhouses like CFRB, the Toronto Star, and others vying for the win.
It was in this high-pressure situation that Ted Rogers, then a 26-year-old law student, made his second bold move in the industry: he cold-called war hero and newspaperman John Bassett andasked to join the Bassett-Eaton (Baton) bid for CFTO. Won over by Ted’s youthful passion and tenacity, a new alliance was born joining Baton with Ted Rogers and his radio partner Joel Alred to form Baton-Alred-Rogers Broadcasting (BARB).
True pioneer and visionary
His rivals approached their bids as extensions of their current businesses. Ted believed TV was more than radio or newsprint with moving pictures. He believed after a decade of public broadcasting, it was time for something new. Something more. And for Ted, this pitch against Standard Broadcasting, the company that seized control of CFRB FM (Canada’s First Rogers Batteryless) following his father’s passing, was a personal bid to honour his late father’s legacy.
Ted studied the competition – and zigged left where they zagged right. BARB breathed life into their pitch with a “show and tell” of programming – despite a power outage mid-presentation! – and won the licence. They had eight short months to get CFTO to air!
Ted not only brought CFTO to air in record time, he paved the way for a new era of Canadian television. By the end of the decade, Ted would introduce the superior quality of cable and launch community television stations, further transforming the Canadian TV experience.
60 proud years of connecting Canadians
Sixty years ago, Ted Rogers started Rogers to connect Canadians to the people, places and things that matter most. Each and every day we honour his relentless drive to make more possible for Canadians.