Art Jones [Photo: Vancouver Public
Art Jones and the Birth of CHAN-TV
From The Vancouver Sun of January 30, 1960:
Arthur Frederick Jones, photographer, was having lunch in
the PNEs Terrace Room when he was called to the telephone
in the kitchen. Leaning over a stove with a big bubbling tureen
of hot soup just under his nose, and with the receiver to his ear,
Jones heard a voice from the Suns editorial staff, Barry Broadfoot.
Let me be the first to congratulate you, Broadfoot said.
Why? said Jones.
You just won the television licence.
Oh, no, said Jones.
That was how Art Jones, 34, learned he and his partners in Vantel
Broadcasting had been given the okay by the Board of Broadcast Governors,
the predecessor to the CRTC, to launch Vancouvers first private
television station. (CBUT, the CBC outlet, had signed on December
16, 1953.) Jones was genuinely astounded that his group had won
the bid. I knew we had a chance, he said, but
I certainly wasnt confident.
They would call the new station CHAN. It still has those official
call letters 46 years later, but is now part of the Global network.
Art has a funny memory of that time. After I got that kitchen
phone call, my first reaction was to call my office. But the lines
were plugged, so I headed downtown. Not long after I got there,
a large limousine appeared in our parking lot and out steps the
VP of one of Canadas largest banks. His chauffeur was carrying
a box for me: a case of champagne! That was funny, because his bank
had turned me down on a proposition a couple of weeks previously.
And, no, they did not get the TV stations account!
The stations birth had not been an easy one. We were
one of 22 original applicants for the Vancouver licence, Jones
says. I visited every BBG member across the country just to
get to know them, including Dr. Andrew Stewart, the chair. This
was in 1959. By the time the hearings began there were five applicants.
We were the only one who made their final application on film. Nowadays,
of course, everyone does it. But it had never been done before.
Stewart agreed to have us run it, but he wanted it shown at the
public hearing. It was in black and white, 24 minutes long, and
the last few seconds were in color.
Maybe that film did the trick. Maybe it was those visits. At any
rate, Jones group got the nod.
They already had a studio. Sort of. Some years earlier (1948, to
be precise) Art and another photographer, Ray Munro, had formed
a freelance news-photo operation called artray. By 1960 artray (now
minus Munro) was operating out of 1219 Richards, at the corner of
Davie. A lot of work the company did was for KVOS-TV, which had
its headquarters in Bellingham, Washington, but which since 1955
had been aimed at the Vancouver market. (KVOS was the real pioneer
in local television: it signed on June 3, 1953.)
In the early days of KVOS every still they
showed, every piece of film, came from artray. One of my staff at
the time (and a former CJOR announcer) was Keith Cutler, of CJOR.
Wed occasionally been taking people on tours of the Richards
Street location, and one of the people whod been on the tourCol.
E.G. Ted Eakinsphoned me the next day to tell
me the BBG was going to allow a second TV station in Canadas
eight largest cities.
Ted Eakins and his wife Frankie became my first partners
in Vantel Broadcasting. Peter Paul Saunders and Andrew Saxton joined
them, so the five of us held control of slightly over 50 per cent
of the company (17.5 per cent for the Eakins, 17.5 per cent for
Saunders and Saxton and 17.5 per cent for me)other smaller
investors then joined us.
On October 31, 1960 at 4:30 p.m. we went on the air from
the 1219 Richards location. We put our dish on the roof of a two-storey
building next door. We had to lease the building. From the very
corner of its roof you could just catch a peek of Burnaby Mountain
and our transmitter tower.
U.S. television was dominant then. Every houses antenna
was pointed south toward Seattle. Our signal was pretty good downtown,
not so good farther out. Wed been planning for a spot on the
Lake City property in Burnaby, and we moved out there in the spring
or summer of 1961. Alan Emmott, by the way, was the mayor of Burnaby
at the time, and he insisted the station had to be identified as
a Burnaby station. To this day, they mention that at least once
during the day.
We were really excited about the new station. I remember
we got really good ratings with Huckleberry Hound!
"In 1962 I sold my share of the station to All-Canada.
In the interim Art Jones has racked up a solid record of business
success and public service: he established and operated Panorama
and Hollyburn Film Studios in West Vancouver in the 1960s;
was awarded the first Canadian Pay TV licence for BC and Yukon,
Superchannel, in the 1980s; he was president and CEO of Tourism
Vancouver from 1983 to 1986; recipient of the Variety Club Heart
Award 1994 and Pioneer Award 2001; a recipient of Tourism
Vancouvers Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996; served
three terms as president of the Variety Club of British Columbia;
is a board member/office holder/director of numerous companies and
organizations, and was appointed a Commissioner of Vancouver
Civic Theatres in 1998.
More than 40 years after CHAN-TV signed on Art was
still involved with television. At age 80 he was hosting a weekly
Shaw Cable interview show, Art Jones & Company. Art died
April 7, 2006.
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Hound gave the new television station
really good ratings.
[Photo: Mike Wakefield, North Shore News]