|Slogan||Makes you think|
|Channels||Analog: see list of TVOntario transmitters
Digital: see list of TVOntario transmitters
|Owner||Government of Ontario
(The Ontario Educational Communications Authority)
|First air date||September 27, 1970|
|Call letters' meaning||CI Communications Authority
CI Communications Ontario
CI Communications Educational
TVOntario, often referred to only as TVO (call signs: CICA, CICE, CICO), is a publicly funded, educational English-language television station and media organization in the Canadian province of Ontario. It is operated by the Ontario Educational Communications Authority, a Crown corporation owned by the Government of Ontario. TVO had also operated TFO, a French-language public television network until its emergence as an independent agency of the Government of Ontario.
TVO is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, and supported by a network of Regional Councillors from across the province. TVO also reports to the Ontario legislature through the Minister of Education, in accordance with the Ontario Educational Communications Authority Act.
Instead of following the model of the federally owned Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), which shows commercials, TVO is instead, like fellow provincial counterpart Knowledge in British Columbia and PBS in the United States, funded by donations from the public through various avenues including online contributions and on-air pledge drives. Despite viewer donations, the majority of TVO's funding is provided by the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Education, which provides $30 million annually.
As well, TVO is also responsible for over-the-air broadcasts of the Ontario Legislative Assembly in some remote Northern Ontario communities that do not receive cable television access to the Ontario Parliament Network.
TVO used to operate TFO, a separate similar network for Franco-Ontarian audiences. Before the launch of TFO, TVO aired French-language programming on Sundays. Even after TFO's launch, TVO and TFO swapped programming on Sundays well into the 1990s. TFO was separated from TVO and incorporated as an independent agency in 2007.
TVOntario's budget is $60 million (2011).
TVO is Canada's oldest educational television service. It established the country's first UHF television channel in 1970 at Toronto. It has larger over-the-air coverage in Ontario than the CBC, reaching 98.5% of Ontario with 216 transmitters. TVO is also broadcast on the Bell TV satellite service on channel 265, and on the Shaw Direct satellite service on channel 353.
TVO rebroadcast transmitters have the call letters CICA, CICO or CICE, followed by a number to denote their status as rebroadcasters.
TVO's transmitters are in Ontario, with one exception — its Ottawa transmitter, CICO-TV-24, is based at the Ryan Tower at Camp Fortune in Chelsea, Quebec, where it shares its site with its Quebec counterpart, Télé-Québec, and with most of the region's television and FM radio signals.
TVO, throughout the 70s 80s and 90s, would have top-of-the-hour bumpers where a voice would mention their home channel on Toronto, plus one other channel number for a transmitter; "This is TVOntario. Channel 19 in Toronto, channel XX in (city or town)."
On June 6, 2012, TVOntario announced that it has pulled its signal from cable and satellite services outside Ontario, due to a carriage dispute over compensation for distributing its signal to its subscribers outside Ontario. The network has made an agreement with Vidéotron, and is in negotiations with Shaw Cable, Shaw Direct and Telus, but has failed to reach an agreement with Bell TV. TVOntario cited that: "...we believe that we have a responsibility to earn revenues from the sale of our service outside of our home province. TVO is willing to consent to cable and satellite distributors carrying our signal outside the province, provided that we’re fairly compensated. Since cable or satellite distributors receive subscriber revenues driven by having TVO as part of their offering, we feel it’s reasonable to be compensated. Unfortunately, we could not come to an agreement with Bell to compensate TVO for carrying our signal outside of Ontario, and the decision was made to cease offering our signal outside of Ontario." It is unknown if the dispute or carriage restrictions also apply to the few cable systems in the United States that carry TVO.
CICA's history dates back to 1970, when its parent organization, the Ontario Educational Communications Authority, was created by then Education Minister Bill Davis in June that year. At that time, the OECA produced children's and educational programming which was aired on commercial television stations.
The CBC, acting on behalf of the Ontario Ministry of Education's television branch, eventually applied for and won a licence for the ministry's television station in Toronto, Ontario. CICA, with the mandate of "[using] electronic and associated media to provide educational opportunities for all people in Ontario". The 'CA' in the CICA callsign was derived from the last two letters in the OECA acronym. CBC initially operated the CICA transmitter while the OECA was in charge of programming. OECA assumed all operations of the station, independent of the CBC, when the provincial government declared the Authority an independent corporation in a 1973 Order-in-Council.
CICA Channel 19 began broadcasting on September 27, 1970 with 423,000 watts video and 84,600 watts audio. Its studios were located at 1670 Bayview Avenue and its transmitter was located at 354 Jarvis Street on the CBC tower; the height of its antenna was 550 feet (168 m). In 1972, the station moved to its permanent studios at 2180 Yonge Street where it remains today. The station's broadcast name was OECA, sharing the name of its parent organization, but began using the on-air brand TVOntario (and later just TVO) beginning in 1974.
In the latter half of the 1970s, the network began adding rebroadcast transmitters in other Ontario communities. Its very first rebroadcast transmitter was added in Ottawa on October 25, 1975, under the callsign CICO.
In 1987, TVOntario launched La Chaîne française, which became TFO in 1994. In 1995, the Mike Harris government promised to privatize TVOntario. They never carried through on this plan, but did cut its budget.
The positions of chair and CEO were divided in 2005 with film producer Peter O'Brian being appointed chairman and Lisa de Wilde becoming CEO. On June 29, 2006, the provincial Ministry of Education announced a major overhaul of TVO: its production capabilities would be upgraded to fully digital systems by 2009 (ministry funding would be allocated for this); and TFO would be spun off into a separate organization.
Moreover, programming changes were announced later that day: thirteen hours of new weekly children's educational programming was added, Studio 2 was replaced by The Agenda, and More to Life and Vox were cancelled. The move to digitize services represents a transition; The Globe and Mail quoted TVOntario CEO Lisa de Wilde saying “While television will remain an important medium for TVO, the days of defining ourselves as only a broadcaster are past.” 
In 2002 the Independent Learning Centre, which is responsible for distance education at the elementary and secondary school level as well as GED testing, was transferred from the Ministry of Education to TVOntario.
TVO shows a mixture of original shows, children's programming, British imports, and movies from around the world. In the evenings, TVO runs a mixture of documentary, drama and public affairs programming for adult audiences, including the popular Saturday Night at the Movies, which presents classic films with commentary and interview segments. Late at night, TVO shows educational programming that is designed for teachers to tape and show in school.
Initially, all dramatic programming was required to have some educational content. Actors, journalists or writers were hired to provide commentary on shows that would place them within an educational context. For instance Tom Grattan's War was bookmarked by segments that would use scenes from the series to discuss filmmaking techniques. Episodes of The Prisoner were hosted by journalist Warner Troyer whose segments included interviews with the actors and a discussion of various psychological, philosophical or sociological themes regarding the series. Similarly Doctor Who was hosted by science fiction author Judith Merril who would discuss each week's episode to explore various themes in science and science fiction. Saturday Night at the Movies continued to follow this format long after the requirement was dropped because of the popularity of its host, Elwy Yost whose gentle and insightful commentary enriched a generation of viewers.
Although French-language programs were shown on TVO since its inception and gradually increased in number since then, they eventually moved to the French arm of TVOntario, TFO (originally known as La Chaîne française). When TFO started, TVO would run its English language shows on that channel on Sundays after noon, while the English TVO channel presented La Chaîne française programming at that time. This was done to give francophones without cable some French service, and discontinued in the 1990s after TFO began launching broadcast transmitters in some Franco-Ontarian communities.
Programs produced by TVO have been seen outside of Ontario. In the United States, Polka Dot Door and Parlez-Moi were carried by PBS stations, while cable channel Nickelodeon aired Today's Special during the 1980s. TVO has also been a contributor to programs produced by the US-based Agency for Instructional Technology (and its prececessors), such as selected episodes of Inside/Out and Thinkabout; these and other AIT programs were also broadcast on TVO for in-school use. Educational programs by TVO have also appeared on ABC1 in Australia.
TVOKids is TVO's kids programming block.
In August 2010, TVO began broadcasting in high-definition via a direct-to-cable HD feed. TVO commenced over-the-air HD broadcasting in August 2011 in compliance with the CRTC regulations. Not all digital transmitters are currently broadcasting in high definition.
Following analogue television shutdown and digital conversion, digital television receivers in areas converted to digital will display the local transmitter's virtual channel (or PSIP) as "x.1", with "x" being the station's analogue channel number.
TVO transmitters that have converted are those that are either within mandatory markets for conversion, or medium- and high-powered transmitters anywhere in Ontario that have broadcasted its analogue signal on channels 52 to 69, which is being phased out for television broadcasting:
Digital Transmission starting August 16, 2011
Digital Transmission starting August 18, 2011
In March 2012, TVOntario announced that all 114 of its remaining analog transmitters still under TVOntario ownership will be shut down by October 2013, and will not be replaced by digital transmitters. Its 14 medium and high power transmitters will be shut down July 31, 2012. Of its low power transmitters, 50 will shut down in 2012 and the remaining 50 will shut down in 2013. Remaining broadcasters that carry TVOntario programming has since been transferred to local interests.
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