Western Manitoba loses local TV news as CKX closes

CKX Radio and TV studios

I was sad to read of the closure of CKX TV in Brandon, Manitoba last Friday.

In the late 1970s I was the afternoon drive announcer on CKX Radio, a 50,000 watt station covering Brandon and dozens of rural communities across southwestern Manitoba. I occasionally wandered into the TV studios to appear in car dealer ads or do a bit of voice-tracking for station breaks. I was amazed that – back then at least – the competing CTV and CBC television transmissions were run side-by-side from the same control room, apparently a sensible efficiency in such a small market.

Those were the pre-internet, pre-digital TV days. Brandon had its two TV signals (of which only CKX did local programming), three radio stations (dominated by CKX) and the Brandon Sun newspaper. Attracting a substantial audience and selling advertising were a lot easier.

CKX TV has been on the block for a while, but no one wanted to buy it from current owner CTVglobemedia – even at a price of $1 – due to the inability to secure direct-to-home satellite coverage, something Susan Krashinsky explains in the Globe & Mail.

Residents and local officials, quoted in a Canadian Press story carried by the Winnipeg Free Press, bemoan the station’s closure:

“It just feels like you’ve lost part of the household because it’s been part of our lives here in Brandon and Westman [Western Manitoba] for as long as I’ve ever been here,” said Mayor Dave Burgess. “It’s really sad to see it go.”

Without a television broadcaster, the broad exposure to many of the aspects that keeps people interested in life in the Wheat City has been eliminated in one fell swoop.

“It really removes one of the avenues of getting out to the public,” Burgess said.

The closure will also affect local broadcasting students:

Assiniboine Community College’s media productions program has relied on CKX to be the training ground for hundreds of green broadcasters over the years. “CKX has a long and storied history,” said ACC instructor Greg Sherris. “It’s been an important part of our community and it’s also created opportunities for young people from our area to launch careers that have taken them to places far and wide. ”

“CKX has meant the world to ACC,” he said.

Photo: Wikipedia

One Comment

  1. Chris Sobieniak
    18 April 2010

    Though I’m not from the area, I just wanted to say how sad it is when these things happen, and it’s also a real shame nobody has challenged the CRTC on it’s unfair practices in recent years either.

    It’s rather a shame this had to happen in such a modest city as Brandon and the area in general, also for the CBC for not even considering adding a transmitter site for it’s Winnipeg station if it came to that, but I’ve heard they haven’t done anything like that as of recent, expecting everyone to have had cable or satellite by this point (a right a person should not have for freedom of the airwaves I as see it).

    I can only hope the area may see a new TV station someday as long as there is enough interest and local financial backing that could make it happen.

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