Definition::Television system


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Definition As the term "television system" has no legal definition, and as most audiences and broadcasters usually refer to groups of stations with common branding and programming as "networks" regardless of their structure, the distinction between the two entities is often not entirely clear; indeed, the term is rarely discussed outside the Canadian broadcasting enthusiast community. In the latter regard, however, a group of Canadian stations is currently considered a "network" if it satisfies at least one of the following requirements:

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  • it has at least near-complete national over-the-air coverage (or equivalent mandatory cable carriage) in Canada's major population centres. Three additional station groups meet this criterion: CTV, the Global Television Network and City.

If the group of stations does not match at least one of these criteria, it would then be classified as a "system".

In current practice, a television system may be either:

  • a small group of stations with common branding, such as CTV Two or Omni Television, or
  • a regional group of stations within a larger network, such as CTV Atlantic, CTV Northern Ontario or CBC North, which are legally licensed as multiple stations but effectively act as a single station for programming, branding and advertising sales purposes.

Systems are differentiated from networks primarily by their less extensive service area – while a network will serve most Canadian broadcast markets in some form, a system will typically serve only a few markets. As well, a system may or may not offer some classes of programming, such as a national newscast, which are typically provided by a network.

Finally, with regards to "primary" systems, the amount of common programming on participating stations may be variable. While CTV Two (and previously City, the Baton Broadcast System (BBS) and Global) generally maintains programming and scheduling practices similar to networks (with variations required for specific stations licensed under educational or ethnic formats), the programming and scheduling of stations part of Omni and the Crossroads Television System often differs greatly between stations, with the system sometimes serving mainly as a common format and brand positioning, but providing limited common programming.

Television systems should not be confused with twinsticks, although some individual stations might be part of both types of operations simultaneously. Moreover, a single originating station serving multiple markets within the same province or region is neither a network nor a system; it is merely a station (although it might still be described as a system by its owner, as was the case with Toronto multicultural station CFMT during the 1990s, prior to the formation of Omni Television). For example, independent station CHCH-DT in Hamilton has rebroadcasters in various parts of Ontario but broadcasts the same newscasts, entertainment programming and advertising, which target Hamilton and surrounding areas in the Golden Horseshoe region, across all of these transmitters province-wide.

Television system sections
Intro  Definition  History  Current systems  Former systems  References  

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