Videon Cablesystems was a
Cable television service in
Manitoba, Alberta, and for a
short period northwest Ontario, Canada.
origins of Videon date back to October 1959 when original General
Manager Claude Boucher applied to the
Lakehead Public Utilities Board in Port Arthur, Ontario (now Thunder
Bay) to provide cable television service to the town
through the new company Lakehead Videon.
system was built and was sold to Maclean-Hunter
in July 1970. This was done
because the Canadian
Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
complained that Famous Players
50% ownership of Lakehead Videon and Metro Videon, which in turn
was primarily American owned. CRTC rules stated that Canadian cable
companies must be at least 80% Canadian-owned.
Videon Cablesystems, Inc.
, Winnipeg Videon Inc.
Metro Videon Community Antenna Television Inc.
television company serving Winnipeg on the west
side of the Red River from August 14, 1968 until 2002.
was owned by the Moffat family through their company Moffat Communications Ltd.
Randall L. Moffat
was its president.
Metro Videon Community Antenna
Television Inc. was formed "quietly" in 1962, after three
additional television signals — CBWFT, KCND, and CJAY, started
broadcasting in 1960.
initial partners were Randy Moffat,
owner of CKY ; Ralph
Misener, owner of CJAY Channel 7
television; Famous Players
theatres, owner of several cable tv systems including the one
Bay, Ontario; and
Claude Boucher, Videon's first
expanded service to Pinawa, Manitoba before approaching the federal Department of Transport for a
license to operate in Winnipeg.
Metro Videon had waited to apply for a cable-tv license because the
Department had "frozen" new applications for community antenna
(CATV) companies to
serve towns and cities so they could draw up regulations for this
type of service. But yet at the same time, the company was so
confident that everything would work out, that prior to the
announcement of the service, they pre-purchased and installed large
amounts of coaxial cable underground in parts of Tuxedo
, Fort Garry
, and Assiniboia
. They paid a rental rate of 60 cents
per 100 feet of coax. to Manitoba Telecom Services
This saved Videon money because MTS was placing their telephone cables
underground at the same
Preliminary negotiations with MTS for use of telephone poles
and underground right-of-way
to string coaxial cable
western half of metropolitan Winnipeg went from 1963
Later in the year, Videon had started to construct the headend
and cable tv infrastructure. Videon had
hoped to include the suburbs east of the Red River, but this fell
to another company, Greater
The new cable company announced that they would charge $10 to
connect to their service, and $5 per month to subscribe to the
signals. This low fee remained much in effect until the advent of
Canadian pay television in 1983.
Videon's first administrative offices were located at 2 Donald St.
South, but moved to 651 Stafford St. around January 1976.
For a short while in 1976, Videon carried the audio of CJOB-FM
on cable 6, CBW-FM
cable 7, CKY-FM
on cable 9. The CRTC did not
allow this and Videon had to discontinue the service in early April
later Videon had to pull a special closed-circuit program signal
between Health Sciences Centre and the St. Boniface Hospital because the CRTC did not allow "point-to-point
In 1978 Videon applied to the CRTC for a 50 cent fee increase, the
first since the cable company began operations in Winnipeg.
major rebuild of 1987, Videon added the Assiniboia Downs Racing Network on January 23, 1988.
made possible for the first time so-called "off track"
served Winnipeg proper,
James, Brooklands, West Kildonan, Old Kildonan, Fort Garry, Charleswood, and Tuxedo.
The first area to receive cable-tv was St. Norbert
in August 1968.
headend and administrative offices were
located in a former A&P supermarket
building at 651 Stafford St. until 1995 when Videon moved
to a suburban location at 22 Scurfield Blvd. in Fort Garry.
- Richard Guertin, Marketing
Manager (late 1980s)
- Dorthi Dunsmore,Programming Manager of VPW and VSP (1970s)
- Richard Edwards, Programming
Manager of VPW and VSP (1980s)
Between August, 1968 and 1976, Videon used to have a simple B&W
camera housed on a track go back and forth to display the weather
on analog dials. At the end of one way was a small poster for
advertising. This was cablecast on channel 13 until 1976 when
Videon went to an all electronic text system which is still used
"The Broadcasting Act, passed by Parliament in 1968, made CATV
systems an integral part of the broadcasting system and established
the Canadian Radio Television Commission to regulate and supervise
all aspects on the Broadcasting system, with a view to implementing
the broadcasting policy enunciated in the act."
The commission recognized the need for a medium of local expression
and took positive steps to fill this need. The CRTC summarized its
policy as follows:
"Cable television, which began as a service to remote communities
with reception difficulty, has now become a major factor in the
Canadian Broadcasting System, and has a potential for a wide range
of services in all communities. These community programming
services can be of a complementary, rather than a competitive
nature to those already provided by other broadcasting
The CRTC mandated that cable companies across Canada provide a
Channel for the use of the Community. They had the revolutionary
idea that Canadian airwaves belong to the Canadian people. The
cable companies were expected to spend ten per cent of their income
on a Community Channel.
At that time, the CRTC had Policies for the operation of the
Community Channel, but no regulations. They wanted people across
the country to experiment with various ideas before regulations
were put into place.
In September 1972, Winnipeg Videon Inc. hired a program manager to
search the community for individuals and groups who would be
interested in, or benefit from, programming on the channel.
Videon provided two community channels:1. Public Access - Programs
produced by the public, using Videon's facilities and staff.
Individuals were trained in the use of the equipment.2.
Informational Programming - National Film Board material and tapes
and film provided locally. When mobile facilities became available
later, Videon took suggestions from the community as to what event
to cover, but reserved to make the choice.
on channel 9 and moved to channel 13 in September 1975 when
CKND went on the air, then channel 11 after CHMI moved to
channel 8 from 13.
Videon had a program sharing agreement
with Greater Winnipeg
to retransmit programming on each others community
Videon wanted to cablecast the monthly Community Committee
meetings, and they appeared at the Fort Rouge meeting in April,
1977 to request that their recording equipment be allowed. The
first cablecast meeting took place at the VPW studio at 657
Stafford St. on June 21, although later meetings were held at the
regular Community Committee rooms. A newspaper article at the time
quotes politician June Westbury
"I support the idea because the more coverage we have, the more
community involvement we can hope for."
Videon carried coverage of the CBC licence renewal hearings in
October 1978 on VPW13, which is considered one of the first
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
hearings carried via cable television in Canada.
From 1996 till 2001 Videon produced a weekly public affairs
phone-in program, Insight
, mainly hosted by Kelly Parker
. It featured topics, such as
downtown revitalization, urban crime, and other local issues. One
of its most noted episodes was the WREB Mayoral Forum of October
, held at the Walker Theatre
in downtown Winnipeg. However this program was canceled when SHAW
purchased Videon in 2001.
For a time in the 1980s they used a song from the The Alan Parsons Project
, "Where's the Walrus
", while a narrator, Richard
Hersley, told of the community programming services offered by
Videon Cable-tv in Winnipeg. Prior to that the title theme from the
was used as background
music to the VPW13 daily open.
- The Cosmopolitans (CARRIED by
VPW but originated at Greater Winnipeg Cablevision) — a duo of
middle aged women playing organ and drum.
Licorice — Hosted a music video program, Music Makers,
in 1982, before MuchMusic and CBC's Video Hits existed.
- Guy Maddin — Winnipeg
- Kelly Parker — Hosted Videon
Insight 1995-2001. Now with Winnipeg's 99.9
- Natalie Pollock — Hosted Pollock
& Pollock in the 1980s.
- Jaret Sereda — Hosted a program
about goings on in Winnipeg in the 1980s, now with CJOB
- Marty Green — Hosted Math With
Marty in the late 1980s. Moved to Thunder Bay, Ontario in the
- Don Hunter and Kim Benson — Hosted
Winnipeg Entertainment from 1987 through 1988 (2 seasons).
to Toronto, Ontario in 1988,
where he continued in voice, tv and radio.
- Lisa Kopochinski — Hosted
"Jazzaerobics" a weekly exercise program
- Ruth Loutit — was the long time host
of UN & the Community
- Noah Whitman — hosted the Jewish
Television Hour (which was only 30 minutes in length)
- Mario Raimondi — was the host of
"Italiani in Winnipeg" which featured news and information about
the Italian community
- Bart Monaco — hosted "Itialissimo"
the rival to the long running "Italiani in Winnipeg"
- Claro Paqueo — was the host of
"Phillipinorama" which combined community information with Disco
- Long time staff members included: John Prentice, Jim MacGregor,
Gord McLennan, Sekhar, Donna Jonsson, Gregg Thurlbeck, Rob Carlson,
Greg McLaren, Richard Edwards, Nora Nordin, Mark Evans, Richard
Nazerevich, John Parsons, Dorthi Dunsmore, Dagmar Jansen
In September 1979 Winnipeg was the first city in Canada to receive
the House of Commons
satellite and cablecast
On October 30, 1982 Videon transferred some of its programming from
VPW-13 such as city hall, community committee meetings and created
Later in the decade it carried Manitoba Educational
In 1982 there was a consumer info show and another segment on law,
produced by the Public Legal Education Association.
And in 1983 a program called Health and Wellness
Wednesday nights at 7 p.m. and replayed Sundays at 6:30 p.m.
When VSP-7 wasn't cablecasting video programming, it would function
as the Community Billboard channel.
Live coverage events
, Community Committees
, Manitoba Legislature
House of Commons Proceedings, Canada Day celebrations.
Until 1991 Videon replayed City Council meetings on Saturday
mornings. However, for some unknown reason they stopped doing this
after signing a multi-year contract with the City Hall Clerk's
Also, until the early 1990s Videon carried Live coverage of
Community Committee meetings. These are no longer carried.
On May 15, 1990 Videon added four alphanumeric channels to their
- 21 BN Newswire
- 29 Prevue Guide EPG
- 39 Airport Arrivals & Departures
- 40 Stock Market Channel (Telidon-based)
The Airport Channel was combined into a new channel 51 on September
1, 1999. After the change, Videon received 6,000 customer service
calls to bring back the old Environment Canada weather
August 14, 1968 until March 1986 Videon carried two Fargo, North
Dakota stations, KTHI-TV
11 (ABC then NBC), and KXJB-TV 4 (CBS).
The distance to the headend was long
and Videon applied to the CRTC for a microwave link, which was
approved on July 5, 1974, and installed at Tolstoi, Manitoba
to pick up these two
stations directly from Fargo. However, during very hot and humid
summer weather, the signal quality would degrade to the point of
being unwatchable. Later on Videon received KXJB via a
translator at Glasston, North Dakota (K58BP).
On July 9, 1975 Videon added the signal of KGFE
(PBS) Grand Forks. Initially Videon tested the channel on 3 and
7 to find out which had the least interference from local over the
air channels (CBWFT and CKY-TV
They later went with cable 3.
several years of complaints of poor signal quality, Videon applied
to the CRTC to replace its NBC and CBS affiliates with those of
WDIV 4 and WJBK 2, both from
Michigan via Anik satellite, and in
March, 1986 the Fargo stations were replaced with those from
Detroit. However by 1993, complaints over the level
of crime reporting on the commercial Detroit stations lead Videon
to not renew its agreement to carry WDIV and WJBK , and instead
replaced them with other stations, first from Toledo, Ohio, and later from Minneapolis, Minnesota.
By 1989 the CRTC allowed MuchMusic and TSN to be part of basic
cable rather than pay television stations. So Videon created a tier
of services beginning in July 1989 called the Variety Pak
sold for $5.95/month and included TSN, CNN, WTVS 56 Detroit, A&E, TNN, TV5, and MuchMusic.
This package was to become known as Tier
On January 1, 1995 several new Canadian satellite-cable (also
called specialty) networks started broadcasting. These were
, Discovery Channel Canada
, Life Network
. Réseau de l'information
was part of basic cable. This was Tier 2. And by this time, people
in other cities such as Toronto and Vancouver were starting to get
annoyed at the high cost of cable-tv, threatening to disconnect
their cable service and get a grey-market DirecTv satellite service
was implemented in stages between September 1997 and October 1998,
beginning with CTV News1, MuchMoreMusic, ROBtv, Star!, and
In 1983 Videon had two channels left for pay-tv. It used just one
of them, choosing to offer the national First Choice service on
channel 22. Videon claimed at the time that they might be able to
make channel 23 (J) available for another pay-tv service, having to
choose between C-Channel
. But they did not follow
through on this, possibly because of co-channel interference.
A long-time dispute between Videon Cable-tv and MTS over ownership
of the wiring and poles used to carry the signal caused Videon to
get far behind other cablecos. in offering an expanded channel
lineup. Both parties were very stubborn for several years,
hindering the growth of cable tv service in Winnipeg.
However, it wasn't until a full cable rebuild in the summer of 1987
that Videon was able to offer the other pay television services
Videon used the Zenith
Z-Tac cable scrambling
system to keep its pay-tv signals from theft. This was an advanced
addressable system where each descrambler has an ID, similar to an
IP address on a computer today.
Beginning June 28, 1991, Videon added three U.S. Superstations to its
pay-tv lineup: WTBS Atlanta
(cable 33), WGN Chicago
(cable 34), and WSBK Boston
August 1968 Metro Videon Cable-tv Channel Lineup
||NBC Grand Forks
||ABC Fargo ND
||ABC Pembina ND
1983 Videon Cable-tv Channel Lineup
||PBS Grand Forks ND
||Environment Canada Weather
||ABC Grand Forks
||NBC Fargo ND
September 1987 Videon Cable-tv Channel Lineup
||PBS Grand Forks ND
||NBC Detroit MI
||WJBK CBS Detroit MI
||ABC Grand Forks
||Environment Canada Weather
||CHSC Canadian Home Shopping Club
||TLC The Learning Channel
||CMT Country Music Television
A sample cable line-up from 1995 would be:
- 02 CBWT 6 (CBC)
- 03 KGFE (PBS)
- 04 WDIV (NBC)
- 05 CKY 7 (CTV)
- 06 WTOL (CBS)
- 07 Viewer's Choice Pay-Per-View preview channel
- 08 CHMI 13 (Ind.)
- 09 Environment Canada Weather
- 10 CBWFT (SRC)
- 11 Videon Cable 11
- 12 CKND Wpg TV
- 13 WDAZ (ABC)
- 14 TSN
- 15 CNN
- 16 TNN
- 17 Horse Racing/Road Conditions
- 18 Headline News
- 19 Life Network
- 20 A&E
- 21 WTN
- 22 Broadcast News
- 23 TLC
- 24 WTVS (PBS)
- 25 NCN
- 26 The Discovery Channel
- 27 Bravo!
- 28 WUHF (Fox)
- 29 Sport Score
- 30 CHSC
- 31 Airport Departures/Arrivals
- 32 Community Billboard
- 33 Telenium stock quotes/University of Winnipeg
- 34 RDI
- 35 CBC Newsworld
- 36 MuchMusic
- 37 YTV
- 38 Vision TV
- 39 Showcase Television
- 40 The Weather Network
- 43 Paid Programming
- 44 Prevue Channel
- 45 Family Channel
- 46 MovieMax!
- 47 SuperChannel
- 48 TBS
- 49 WSBK
- 50 WGN
- 51 Viewer's Choice Pay-Per-View previews
- 52-57 Viewer's Choice Pay-Per-View
- 58 Viewer's Choice Pay-Per-View schedule
- 59 CFTM (TVA)
- 60 TV5
- 61 Videon Cable 61
In the mid-1990s when Internet access from home became affordable,
Videon had helped to create a high-speed cable modem service called
Wave. Then in March 1999 Videon switched to the @Home
For business users, Videon had FiberLink
, a SONET
-based voice, data communications line, which has
the ability to interconnect LANs
Expansion to other towns
In the 1990s Videon bought up several locally owned cable
companies, creating Canada's fifth largest cable company.
expanded their reach to include Headingley.
They also purchased a cable company in Alberta.
Videon is sold
2001 the Moffat family sold Videon
Cable-tv Inc. to SHAW Cable of
CRTC licence-related links
- "Cable TV will bring channels galore", Winnipeg Tribune, April
1, 1967,p. 23.