CBLT-DT, virtual channel 5 (UHF digital channel 20), is the flagship station of the English language service of CBC Television licensed to Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The station is owned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, as part of a twinstick with Ici Radio-Canada Télé owned-and-operated station CBLFT-DT (channel 25), which is operated through corporate subsidiary Société Radio-Canada.

Toronto, Ontario
BrandingCBC Toronto (general)
CBC Toronto News (newscasts)
SloganCanada's Public Broadcaster
ChannelsDigital: 20 (UHF)
Virtual: 5 (PSIP)
AffiliationsCBC Television (O&O; 1952–present)
OwnerCanadian Broadcasting Corporation
First air dateSeptember 8, 1952 (1952-09-08)
Call letters' meaningCanadian
Broadcasting Corporation
Great Lakes
Sister station(s)CBLFT-DT, CBL-FM, CBLA-FM
Former callsignsCBLT (1952–2011)
Former channel number(s)Analog:
9 (VHF, 1952–1956)
6 (VHF, 1956–1972)
5 (VHF, 1972–2011)
Transmitter power106.9 kW
Height491.0 m
Transmitter coordinates43°38′33″N 79°23′14″W
Licensing authorityCRTC
WebsiteCBC Toronto

CBLT-DT's studios are located at the Canadian Broadcasting Centre on Front Street West in Downtown Toronto, which it shares with national cable news channel CBC News Network and also houses the studios for most of CBC's news and entertainment programs. The station's transmitter is located atop the CN Tower in downtown Toronto. On cable, CBLT is available on Rogers Cable channels 6 and 127, and in high definition on digital channel 514. On satellite, the station is available on Shaw Direct classic lineup channel 33 and advanced lineup channel 37, and on Bell TV on channels 210 (standard definition) and 1050 (high definition).


The station first signed on the air on September 8, 1952, originally broadcasting on VHF channel 9. It is the oldest television station in the province of Ontario, and the second oldest in Canada after Ici Radio-Canada Télé flagship station CBFT-DT in Montreal. The station's first broadcast was prefaced by the inadvertent incorrect display of the CBC's national network logo; conflicting accounts say it was either displayed upside-down or backwards, due to the incorrect insertion of the slide. No such error was made two days earlier when CBFT signed on.[1]

CBLT originally broadcast from a series of smaller studios (which were torn down and replaced by a building that now houses the National Ballet School) on Jarvis Street, next to its old transmitter. On January 19, 1953, a microwave link between Buffalo, New York and Toronto was activated, allowing the live telecast of programs from the American television networks. A few months later, on May 14, 1953, CBC Television's stations in Montreal (CBFT-DT) and Ottawa (CBOT-DT) became the first connections within the Trans-Canada Microwave system.

In 1956, CBLT moved to VHF channel 6 and increased its effective radiated power from 25 to 100 kW. The change in frequency was made to accommodate the eventual licensing of a second privately owned local station for Toronto, which eventually became CFTO (channel 9) when that station was licensed at the end of 1960. Then in 1972, CBLT relocated to channel 5 in order to allow two new stations – CKGN (now CIII-DT) in Paris and a repeater of Ottawa-based CJOH in Deseronto – to use channel 6.

CBLT moved its transmitter facilities to the CN Tower when it opened in 1976; its signal was transmitted from the tower for the first time on May 31, 1976. It eventually moved its operations to the Canadian Broadcasting Centre on Front Street.


CBLT has used a variety of on-air brands since its inception. From 1957 to 1972, it was known as "Channel 6". Following its move to channel 5 in 1972, it rebranded as "CBLT Five", later simplifying it to "CBLT/5". In the late 1970s, the station was branded as "Toronto/5", with the then-new CBC logo substituting for one of the O's in "Toronto". During the 1980s, it was known mainly as CBLT-TV, although it used a "CBC 5" logo. Starting on January 1, 1986, the station was identified in print ads as "CBC Television Toronto/5", but the CBLT name was used for its local programs including its supper hour newscast CBLT Newshour. By the 1990s, it was known simply as "CBC Toronto", although the CBLT calls were used from time to time in local programming, and on the CBC website. As with most Canadian television stations, the use of the analogue channel placement was phased out of the station's logo and advertising, as most cable placements did not match up with its VHF frequency.

News operation

CBLT-DT currently broadcasts ten hours and 40 minutes of locally produced newscasts each week (with two hours on weekdays, a half-hour on Saturdays and ten minutes on Sundays); in regards to the number of hours devoted to news programming, it is the lowest local newscast output out of any English-language television station in the immediate Toronto market and the second lowest among the stations in the expanded Toronto-Hamilton-Barrie market as a whole (behind CTV 2 owned-and-operated station CKVR-DT, which airs seven hours of newscasts each week). CBLT's newscasts have consistently faced very stiff competition in the Toronto market, consistently rating behind CTV station CFTO since it surged to the number one spot in 1970, and behind CITY-TV (channel 57) since 1982.

On September 10, 1984, CBLT debuted one of the only locally produced morning television programs in Canada, CBLT Morning, which aired weekdays from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. The programme was co-hosted by Dale Goldhawk and Leslie Jones, with news reported by Kevin Marsh.[2] At the time of the programme's cancellation on April 4, 1986, it was watched by 20,000 viewers, more than the Canadian viewership of ABC's Good Morning America, but less than that of CTV's Canada AM.[3]

In the spring of 1995, according to BBM Canada, CBLT's evening newscast CBC Evening News had a total audience of 117,000 viewers in the Toronto-Hamilton market, putting it in fourth place behind Global News on CIII at 141,000, CITY's CityPulse at 229,000, and CFTO's World Beat News at 409,000. Only CHCH (channel 11), the only other station based in the Toronto-Hamilton market with a 6:00 p.m. newscast, had lower viewership at 77,000 viewers.

On October 15, 2011, CBLT debuted a half-hour 6:00 p.m. newscast on Saturdays; the station then launched a ten-minute news bulletin on Sundays at 11:00 p.m. the following day. A 30-minute newscast at 11:00 p.m. on weeknights was introduced on September 17, 2012. The additional local newscasts were part of a five-year strategic plan by the CBC called "2015: Everyone, Every Way", which will feature local service improvements across CBC's television, radio and internet platforms.[4]

Notable current on-air staff

Notable former on-air staff


The station's signal from its CN Tower transmitter adequately covers the immediate Greater Toronto Area, from Oshawa in the east, out to Halton Hills and Georgetown in the west, and from Hamilton and Niagara Falls in the south, to roughly Bradford.

In addition, CBLT serves as the default CBC affiliate for cable and satellite subscribers in markets previously served over-the-air by CBLT's rebroadcast transmitters (see below), as well as the Thunder Bay and Peterborough television markets, after CKPR-DT in Thunder Bay disaffiliated from the network September 1, 2014 and CHEX-DT in Peterborough and its sister station CHEX-TV-2 in Oshawa both followed August 31, 2015, in both cases to become affiliates of the CTV Television Network.

The station is also carried on cable in several American communities, similar to sister stations CBUT in Vancouver, CBET in Windsor and CBMT in Montreal.

In the Caribbean, CBLT is carried on cable providers in Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Grenada, Turks and Caicos Islands and Jamaica.


CBLT served much of Ontario through a network of over 35 rebroadcast transmitters, including all of Northeastern Ontario and most of Southwestern Ontario, with the exception of Windsor since CBET-DT serves the Windsor area. The station only served Southern Ontario and a few rural Northern Ontario communities until 2002, when it took over the CBC affiliates of the MCTV twinstick.[5] CBLGT in Geraldton and the CBLAT transmitters had operated since the early 1970s, while others were added as other CBC affiliates disaffiliated from the network or were bought by CBC.

On August 16, 2011, the CRTC granted the CBC permission to continue operating 22 analogue repeaters within mandatory markets, including those in London and Kitchener. These analogue transmitters were given an extension until August 31, 2012 to continue in operation, by which time the transmitters had to be converted to digital or shut down. CBC did not seek an extension for its Barrie transmitter, which it shut down on August 31, 2011, however the remaining satellite rebroadcast stations remained in operation.

However, reportedly due to federal funding reductions to the CBC in April 2012, the CBC made substantial budget cuts in their transmitting budget, including shutting down CBC's and Radio-Canada's remaining analogue transmitters on July 31, 2012.[6] This included shutting down all the remaining CBC and Radio-Canada's rebroadcasters that had been "held over" using analogue transmitters during 2011-12. All of them have been decommissioned by the CBC, leaving rural Canadians and U.S. border regions with no free over-the-air CBC coverage, and those viewers have been instructed to subscribe to a cable or satellite provider or have been directed to the website available through pay internet providers.[7]

Digital television

Digital channel

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[8]
5.1720p16:9CBLT-DTMain CBLT-DT programming / CBC Television

Analogue-to-digital conversion

On January 30, 2004, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) granted CBLT permission to broadcast a digital signal on UHF channel 20; CBLT's began broadcasting programming in high definition on March 5, 2005.

CBLT shut down its analogue signal, over VHF channel 5, on August 31, 2011, the official date in which Canadian television stations in CRTC-designated mandatory markets transitioned from analogue to digital broadcasts. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 20.[9] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analogue channel 5.

See also


  1. "Canadian Communications Foundation - Fondation Des Communications Canadiennes". Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-02-26.
  2. McLean, Ross (September 22, 1984). "New morning show off to shaky start". The Globe and Mail. p. P13.
  3. "News, drama programs saved from knife". Globe and Mail. April 4, 1986. p. A18.
  4. CBC Toronto Launches Expanded Weekend News Service, Broadcaster Magazine, October 14, 2011.
  5. Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2002-303
  6. Speaking notes for Hubert T. Lacroix regarding measures announced in the context of the Deficit Reduction Action Plan
  7. CBC-TV, TVO end analog transmission
  8. RabbitEars TV Query for CBLT
  9. Digital Television - Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA) Archived 2013-11-20 at the Wayback Machine
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