At CHAT Television we’re very proud to have served television viewers in South Eastern Alberta and South Western Saskatchewan for more than 50 years, and we’re looking forward to a bright and exciting future!
“The Best Small Market News Cast in Canada” (Radio Television Digital News Association, 2013). Our local coverage of the 2013 Alberta Flood garnered our station the RTDNA’s Bert Cannings Award, recognizing the quality of our newscast.
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CHAT-TV, VHF analog channel 6, is a Citytv-affiliated television station located in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. The station is owned by the Jim Pattison Group. CHAT's studios are located at 10 Boundary Road SE in the nearby town of Redcliff, and its transmitter is located near the Trans-Canada Highway and Range Road 80, northwest of Redcliff. This station can also be seen locally on Shaw Cable channel 3 and regionally on Bell TV channel 248.
CHAT also operates rebroadcasters in Pivot (CHAT-TV-1, channel 4) and Maple Creek, Saskatchewan (CHAT-TV-2, channel 6).
CHAT-TV began broadcasting on September 14, 1957, on VHF channel 6, with a transmitter power output of 5,700 watts. The station was owned by Monarch Broadcasting Company Ltd, which was operated by J.H. "Hop" Yuill, and was co-owned with local radio station CHAT (1270 AM, now on 94.5 FM). CHAT-TV was the fourth television station in Alberta to sign on the air, and its launch was presided over by then-premier Ernest Manning.
CHAT-TV's first general manager was R.J. "Bob" Buss. The station operated from a modernized studio and office building and transmitted from a 403-foot tower located at Redcliff. Sid Gaffney was the first chief engineer, and Merv Stone was the production manager. In the beginning, the station began its daily operations at 5:30 p.m., with the only live programming being the 6 p.m. news bulletin, and the rest of the programming either on film or kinescope from the CBC. Around 10% of the local commercials were done live, with the announcers having to ad-lib enough to last the full 60 seconds.
Other early CHAT-TV staff members include Bernie Pascall, Gary Buss, George Lund, Mike Darrow, and Duff Roman. Early local productions of note include Sock-Hop, a teenage dance show, quiz shows such as Teen Challenge and Cartoon Quiz, cooking shows, farming programs, and two music programs, Country Roundup (concentrating on western music), and Music For the Moderns, featuring local musicians.
Later that year, the station joined the CBC's microwave network on December 15, increasing the station's broadcast hours to from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. In 1961, a full-power rebroadcast transmitter was installed near Pivot, near the Alberta-Saskatchewan border, which improved the station's signal reach. In 1967, color programming from the CBC arrived on CHAT, and local color programs started in February 1971.
In September 1979, the main transmitter was relocated to Bowell, Alberta, and its power was increased to 36,000 watts. Other rebroadcasters were added in Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, and at Oyen, Alberta (which was owned by the community).
In 1992, W.H. "Bill" Yuill, son of "Hop" Yuill, became the owner and president of Monarch Communications, which had expanded into other broadcasting and cable properties in Alberta and British Columbia. Over the years, Bob Buss was followed as general manager by Orv Kope, Dwaine Dietrich, Brian Bolli, Brian Ellis, and again by Dwaine Dietrich in 1996. David Sherwood took over in 2007 following the retirement of Dwaine Dietrich.
In 2000, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved the sale of Monarch's radio and television holdings (including CHAT-TV) to the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group, a division of the Jim Pattison Group.
On February 28, 2008, the CRTC announced the approval of disaffiliation of CHAT from the CBC effective August 31, 2008. Documents filed with the CRTC indicate the station would then receive programming from CanWest Global. Global's Calgary station CICT-TV is available on cable in Medicine Hat; however, it does not reach the market over-the-air, while CHAT presently airs selected Global programs simultaneously with CICT. On September 1, 2008, CHAT became the market's E! affiliate. Medicine Hat was the only over-the-air market served by E!, where a Global affiliate was not available locally. It was announced that the transmitters of CHAT would not be replaced by the CBC. The market now receives CBC programming through CBRT, which is available on cable and satellite in Medicine Hat, as well as on CBCA-TV-1 12 in Etzikom, which previously rebroadcast CHAT-TV before the affiliation switch. Despite the region's tiny francophone population, Radio-Canada station CBXFT in Edmonton operated a rebroadcaster in Medicine Hat until the CBC shut down all of its analog transmitters on July 31, 2012.
On July 14, 2009, Pattison announced that CHAT and its other E! affiliates would begin receiving programming from Rogers Media's Citytv system starting September 1, although the stations did not begin to utilize any form of "Citytv" branding. Canwest had previously announced it would sell or close its E! stations, leaving the Pattison stations without a programming source. However, Citytv was already available in Medicine Hat through the network's Calgary owned-and-operated station CKAL-TV, which is carried on channel 11 on area cable providers. CHAT and CKAL will continue to operate separately, and CHAT simulcasts CKAL's primetime lineup (with programming in different timeslots) at times.
On May 3, 2012, Rogers announced the renewal of the Citytv affiliation agreement with Jim Pattison Group, originally slated to expire on August 2012; under the agreement, CHAT began carrying 90% of Citytv's primetime schedule and the majority of its morning and daytime lineup (including a simulcast of the Calgary edition of Breakfast Television), largely following CKAL's schedule (with breakaways for CHAT's locally produced midday and evening newscasts) on September 1, 2012.
Historically, CHAT aired Hockey Night in Canada dated back to the days of CBC affiliation. However, when Rogers bought the national rights to the National Hockey League in November 2013, the Pattison affiliates began to air Hockey Night once again in October 2014.
CHAT-TV presently broadcasts 15 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with three hours each exclusively on weekdays); the station does not produce any weekend newscasts. CHAT-TV's local newscasts are titled CHAT News; the station carries a 30-minute lunch hour newscast at noon with a repeat from 12:30-1:00 p.m., and a two-hour early evening news block from 5:30-7:30 p.m. A half-hour review of the week's news stories airs Saturdays at 6 p.m., with repeat broadcasts at 6 p.m. on Sunday evenings and Monday mornings at 6:30 a.m.
As of 2009, CHAT has not yet begun broadcasting a digital signal.
According to a 2009 CRTC decision, CHAT-TV is not required to activate its digital signal, as Medicine Hat is not a mandatory market for digital conversion, which took place in most other markets on August 31, 2011. When CHAT-DT signs on its digital signal, the station will broadcast on UHF channel 40, using PSIP to list CHAT-DT's virtual channel as 6.