CTV Two Alberta is a Canadian English language entertainment, information and educational television channel in the province of Alberta. It is owned by Bell Media, and operates as a de facto owned-and-operated station of its secondary CTV Two television system.
The channel is licensed by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) as an educational programming service for Alberta, and was formerly a public broadcaster owned by the Alberta provincial government. Since becoming a private broadcaster, it has continued to air educational and children’s programming as a condition of license, along with entertainment programming more favourable to advertisers and adult viewers.
The channel is also designated as a “satellite-to-cable undertaking” serving the entirety of Alberta, and is therefore carried throughout the province on cable and licensed IPTV services on each service’s basic tier. It is also available on both national satellite services, Bell TV and Shaw Direct. In addition, the station formerly operated two terrestrial transmitters, CJAL-TV (channel 9) in Edmonton, where the channel’s main studios are located, and CIAN-TV (channel 13) in Calgary.
The channel was launched on June 30, 1973 as Access by the Alberta government, through the Alberta Educational Communications Corporation (AECC), alongside CKUA Radio. Prior to this point, English-language educational programs aired on Radio-Canada’s television station CBXFT in Edmonton. At its launch, Access was only available through cable, and did not broadcast over-the-air.
On January 9, 1984, AECC was granted a licence from the CRTC for a television station in Calgary, CIAN; on December 1, 1986, AECC was granted another licence for a television station in Edmonton, CJAL, to rebroadcast the programs from CIAN. Both stations rebroadcast the Access feed.
After re-evaluating all provincial funding recipients, the Government of Alberta announced in 1993 that it would cease to directly fund Access past 1994. As a result, in 1995, Access was privatized and sold to Learning and Skills Television of Alberta Limited (LSTA), which is 60% owned by CHUM Limited. In February 2005, CHUM Limited acquired the remaining 40% interest in LSTA (and renamed it Access Media Group), giving the company 100% of its shares, including its ownership in Access.
On July 12, 2006, CTVglobemedia announced that it would make a friendly takeover bid to buy CHUM Limited. Due to CTVglobemedia’s plans to keep CTV and Citytv, Rogers Communications was expected to purchase Access (along with CHUM’s A-Channel stations, CKX-TV in Brandon, Canadian Learning Television and SexTV: The Channel) as announced on April 9, 2007, pending CRTC approval (and approval of CTVglobemedia’s purchase).
With the CRTC electing to force CTV to sell the Citytv stations instead, the Rogers deal was rendered void. As such, CTVglobemedia retained Access along with the A-Channel stations, CKX-TV and all of CHUM’s specialty channels, and sold the Citytv stations to Rogers. The takeover transaction was finalized on June 22, 2007. The A-Channel stations were rebranded as “A” on August 11, 2008; on the same date, Access debuted a new A-styled logo and began airing programming from “A” during certain primetime hours.
On June 8, 2011, it was revealed that Access would be relaunched as CTV Two Alberta on August 29, 2011, as part of a rebranding of the “A” system.
In most of its service area, CTV Two Alberta competes with KSPS-TV, the PBS member in Spokane, Washington. KSPS has been available on cable in Calgary and Edmonton for the better part of three decades.
As part of Canada’s transition to digital terrestrial television, broadcast television stations in Calgary and Edmonton were required to convert to digital broadcasting or sign off completely by August 31, 2011. Prior to this deadline, the station had in place an analog over-the-air television transmitter in each of those two markets. The station did not have any other over-the-air transmitters.
As the channel is licensed as a satellite-to-cable undertaking, it is not required to offer over-the-air transmitters. Due to this, the costs of converting the two Access transmitters in Calgary and Edmonton to digital, and because the network already must be carried by cable and IPTV providers in the area as the province’s designated educational broadcaster, CTV Two shut down its over-the-air television transmitters on August 31, 2011. Despite the shut down and the satellite-to-cable status, transmitter information of CJAL and CIAN are still referenced in the early morning sign-on and sign-off that are telecasted during the week.
CTV Two Alberta airs a variety of educational and informative programs along with entertainment programs all of which include children’s programs, documentaries, feature films, talk shows, dramas, comedies and other programs. Since August 2008, CTV Two Alberta (known then as Access) has aired programming from Bell’s secondary television system A (and additionally modified its branding to more closely resemble A’s), while maintaining its educational mandate.
Specifically regarding its educational programming, the channel produces, promotes stainless steel meat mallet, and delivers television-based multimedia learning opportunities to learners of all ages, in partnership with Alberta Learning foil shaver, educational institutions, and educators. Many of the programs, including all of the dramas, are connected to and promote formal courses of study offered by the province’s universities and colleges or the formal learning objectives of Alberta Learning.
The above programming includes primetime series from CTV Two, as well as syndicated shows, much of which must be related to some sort of educational aim. For example, in fall 2008, Access broadcast Mad Men and Pushing Daisies, tied to an English course at Mount Royal University titled “Reading the Popular”, as well as Fringe as part of Lethbridge Community College’s “Basic Television Production” course.
Starting March 9, 2009, Access began airing a province-wide news and current affairs magazine program called Alberta Primetime, from the CTV/Access studios in Edmonton. Resources from CTV’s owned-and-operated stations in Edmonton (CFRN-TV) and Calgary (CFCN-TV) will be used to produce the program.