The station's studios are located at the former site of the Vancouver Public Library, on Robson Street and Burrard Street. The station broadcasts a 2 MW terrestrial signal on UHF channel 32 from a transmitter on Mount Seymour, making it the only CTV network station to broadcast on UHF only.
It is the only CTV station in British Columbia, and in the Pacific Standard Time zone. However, the station's UHF terrestrial signal only reaches Vancouver and Victoria, as well as neighbouring Whatcom County, Washington. Accordingly the station relies exclusively on cable and satellite distribution to reach the rest of British Columbia, making it something of a "weak link" in the CTV network. In the mountain time zone, CIVT is not available or is on a higher channel number, while the zone receives CFCN or CFRN over-the-air as the main affiliates.
Although the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) technically requires Canadian TV stations to identify themselves over the air by their call letters, this rule is rarely enforced, and most Canadian TV stations identify themselves by their brand name rather than their call letters. On-air, CIVT identifies itself simply as "CTV". Where a channel reference is warranted, it uses "Channel 9" - its primary cable channel number on most cable systems in southwestern British Columbia.
CIVT now generally conforms to the standard CTV network schedule, aside from timeslot differences in the daytime schedule in order to maximize simulcast opportunities. The only national program not currently aired on CIVT is The Oprah Winfrey Show, due to historical factors. In the 1990s, almost all CTV stations acquired local rights to Oprah, as well as Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! – however, the local rights were always held by individual stations, not the network. This meant that the B.C. rights, acquired by CHAN (BCTV), did not revert to the network when that station disaffiliated from CTV. CHAN has kept Oprah on its lineup throughout its tenure as a Global O&O. CIVT has used a number of stopgap measures over the years to fill this hole in its schedule, currently airing The Ellen DeGeneres Show in the 4:00 p.m. timeslot instead.
Similarly, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! did not air on CIVT during the years that most other CTV O&Os carried the programs (the Vancouver-area rights to both series later passed from CHAN to CHEK, CHNM, CIVI, CKVU, and most recently CBUT). Ironically, this means that CIVT is now the only English-language, non-religious station in the market not to have carried the two game shows, long associated with CTV elsewhere.
After receiving applications from Rogers Communications and CanWest Global Communications for new stations in the Vancouver/Victoria market in August 1995 and January 1996 respectively, the CRTC issued a general call for applications in March 1996, with a public hearing that September. In all, five applications were considered:
The commission's decision, released January 31 1997, approved the Baton application and denied the others. The prospective Rogers station was denied largely because it would have replaced some of Talentvision's existing ethnic programming with U.S. syndicated fare. It also appeared that the application was purely speculative, as Talentvision's existing owners indicated they had no intention to vacate their licence. As for CanWest, the commission determined that the existing BCTV/CHEK twinstick did not justify licensing a new station to a company already serving the market.
The remaining applications were all determined to be high-calibre; however, the deciding factor in favour of Baton/Electrohome was a commitment to air new Vancouver-produced programming across Baton's and Electrohome's stations (eg. the Vicki Gabereau Show), a promise that the smaller CHUM and Craig station groups could not match.
Upon launch, VTV took over the BC rights to Baton Broadcast System (BBS) programming, some of which was previously aired on BCTV; however, with the Baton/CTV merger nearing completion by this point, the "BBS" brand was not implemented locally in Vancouver. By early 1998 the BBS series had in effect become part of CTV's national schedule; VTV would cover up the CTV bug at the lower-right corner of the screen with its own logo.
To fill in the gaps, and because CHUM did not have a station in the market at that point, VTV also carried some series and movies sourced from Toronto's CITY-TV through the end of the 1999-2000 season. As well, some CTV-owned series that did not air nationally due to low expectations and/or scheduling constraints aired instead on VTV (two notable examples were the first episodes of Ally McBeal and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, both upgraded to national status by midseason). Previously-cancelled Canadian dramas that had already aired on the main network were sometimes aired to fulfill Canadian content obligations.
By the end of 1997, Baton Broadcasting had bought out Electrohome's broadcasting operations, and gained full control of both CIVT and the CTV network. It soon became an open secret that CIVT would become Vancouver's CTV station at the first opportunity. BCTV and CHEK had a long-term affiliation agreement with CTV, covering 40 hours of programming per week, which would not expire until September 2000; due to complications surrounding the breakup of WIC (including Canwest's acquisition of the BCTV/CHEK twinstick and the resulting sale of CKVU), this was later extended by an additional year.
On July 1, 2002, CIVT stopped using the BC CTV ID on-air, and began to identify itself only as CTV, following the lead of several other CTV-owned stations (such as CKCK and CFQC). The name CTV 9 is often used to refer to CIVT informally, but is hardly ever used on-air.
In March 2004, CIVT became the first station in Western Canada to operate a full-time news helicopter, nicknamed "Chopper 9".
In 2005, digital signal CIVT-DT, sometimes known as CTV HD West, became operational.
In January 2008, CTV began producing a Western Canada edition of Canada AM at the CIVT studios; however, the Western edition was cancelled in June of the same year.
*Also substitute anchor.
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