The station began broadcasting on September 19, 2003, on channel 52. The station also has a rebroadcast transmitter in Hamilton on channel 45. It also broadcasts in HDTV (ATSC standard) on channel 66 in Toronto and on channel 15 in Hamilton. The station was known as Toronto 1 until August 29, 2005.
The station applied for rebroadcasters in Ottawa and London in 2007, in order to improve its reach across southern Ontario. The move would give the station coverage roughly equal to that of Citytv, OMNI.1 or OMNI.2. On September 14, 2007, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved CKXT's request, giving the station channel 26, digital 19 in London; and channel 54, digital 62 in Ottawa. SunTV later applied to change its digital channel in Ottawa to 20; this was given approval on June 17, 2008 and began transmissions in September 2008.
Craig Media Inc. was awarded a licence for Toronto 1 (originally rendered "Toronto One") by the CRTC on April 8, 2002 in a non-unanimous and somewhat controversial decision regarding five competing applications for new Toronto-area TV stations. Torstar was widely deemed the frontrunner for the licence, but its proposed schedule, which many called an "innovative" locally-oriented proposal, was found to be unviable by most commissioners. Several existing broadcasters were opposed to any new broadcasters being licensed in the Toronto area because of the unstable economic climate. Alliance Atlantis and CanWest Global were also failed applicants. At the same time Rogers applied for and received a second Toronto multicultural station licence, OMNI.2, in a much less controversial decision.
This also marked the first time that Craig Media had been granted a licence to compete directly with a station owned by CHUM Limited, which meant that CHUM lost sales revenues from the broadcast rights it had contracted to Craig's A-Channel stations. CHUM retaliated by applying for broadcast licences in Calgary and Edmonton, two markets it had previously avoided so as not to compete directly with Craig. The CRTC denied CHUM's applications.
The station proved to be a disaster for Craig. It was frequently criticized in the Toronto media when it launched, particularly for flashy but vacuous and repetitive local content, and for an uninspired prime time schedule based heavily on movies, much like CHUM's longstanding CITY. Columnist Russell Smith of The Globe and Mail called Toronto 1 a "wretched excuse for a television station". (The Globe and Mail at the time was owned by the same company that owned competitor CTV, though the paper would often also criticize that network.)
On May 19, 2004, Craig announced that 28 Toronto 1 employees and nine employees working at CKAL in Calgary were being laid off. In addition, a large portion of Toronto 1's original programming, including weekday morning show Toronto Today, variety show The Toronto Show and late evening talk show Last Call, were cancelled. Some of the hosts, such as Wei Chen and Roz Weston, remained with the station in other roles at that point. Craig Media said the cuts were made to "further rationalize its operations and control costs".
None of the changes worked, and Craig was forced to sell its conventional television assets to CHUM. CHUM was required by CRTC competition regulations to divest itself of the station, owing to its already strong presence in the Toronto television market.
CHUM eventually agreed to sell the station to Quebecor Media, the media unit of Montreal-based communications congomerate Quebecor. The deal was completed on December 2, 2004; Quebecor gave CHUM $46 million (CAD) and Sun Media's 29.9% share in CablePulse24 for CKXT. Ownership was split, 75%/25%, between QMI's publicly-traded broadcasting unit Groupe TVA and wholly-owned publishing subsidiary Sun Media.
Subsequent to the station's sale to Quebecor, the new management cancelled its evening news program, Toronto Tonight, and announced it would expand its entertainment magazine program The A-List to one hour in length, airing weeknights from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m (which was later reduced to a weekend only timeslot, effective March 24, 2006). The station was officially renamed "SUN TV" on August 29, 2005. A late-night sports talk show, The Grill Room, premiered on September 1.
Even before Toronto Tonight ended on June 30, 2005, former Toronto Tonight co-anchor Ben Chin announced he would be moving to Global Television Network as a senior news correspondent; later that summer he decided instead to enter political life as a backroom organizer in Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty's communications team. He soon ran as a Liberal candidate in the Toronto—Danforth by-election in March 2006, but lost to Peter Tabuns.
Chin's Toronto Tonight co-anchor Sarika Sehgal was also let go at the same time. In late 2005, Sehgal joined the 24-hour news channel CBC Newsworld as a host. In the winter of 2003, Toronto Tonight correspondent Chris Mavridis left to join CBS News as a New York based network correspondent. In addition to anchoring and reporting, Mavridis helped create new programming for the network's broadcast radio and online divisions.
Roz Weston joined ET Canada. Natasha Ramsahai, the morning weather person on Toronto Today is now a meteorologist for CBLT, while Bill Coulter, the evening weather person on Toronto Tonight is now a meteorologist for CIII. Tracy Moore and Dina Pugliese both joined Citytv Toronto. Wei Chen is now a host on CBC Radio One.
Under its current management and branding, the station has met its Canadian content obligations primarily by airing repeats of older Canadian series such as King of Kensington, The Beachcombers, Danger Bay, Ready or Not, My Secret Identity, Super Dave and Side Effects.
The performance of CKXT under Quebecor was no better than it was under Craig — in March 2006, the Canadian Media Guild announced that 13 employees would be laid off from the station, including its entire marketing department, and Inside Jam (the rebranded A-List) would be relegated to weekends only. A new program, Canoe Live, was launched in May 2006 to poor reviews.
At the same time, the station has stepped up its acquisitions of U.S. network series, albeit mainly the "leftovers" of other Canadian networks. The fall 2006 schedule, for instance, included Veronica Mars, 60 Minutes, COPS, America's Most Wanted and Girlfriends. The first four programs aired on other Canadian television networks but with poor ratings.
CKXT also carried both of the original MyNetworkTV telenovelas, Desire and Fashion House in 2006, although it scheduled them in the afternoons rather than in prime time. Due to low ratings, the station elected not to air future MNTV telenovelas after the first two series concluded on December 5, 2006.
Canadian content shows are highlighted in red.
|7:00 p.m.||7:30 p.m.||8:00 p.m.||8:30 p.m.||9:00 p.m.||9:30 p.m.||10:00 p.m.||10:30 p.m.|
|Sunday||60 Minutes||The Game||Girlfriends||Boston Legal||King Kaboom||Street Eats|
|Monday||Becker||George Lopez||World's Most Amazing Videos||One Tree Hill||To Serve and Protect|
|Saturday||Beautiful Noise||Dateline NBC||Boston Legal||48 Hours Mystery|
|2003 - 2005||2005 - 2007||2007 - present|