CBC Digital Archives

1989: Cable channel CBC Newsworld launches

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When viewers first tune in to CBC Newsworld on July 31, 1989, they see a slew of technical hiccups. Satellites lose their signals, audio crackles in and out, and hosts clumsily stumble through their first demanding day. But, for the first time in this country, Canadians have their own dedicated 24-hour news channel. Designed for on-the-go viewers, Newsworld offers frequent news updates and magazine-style programming. The network has an exhilarating if not perfect debut, as shown in this television report.
• CBC was granted the licence for the news cable station in 1987. In the United States, media mogul Ted Turner debuted Cable News Network (CNN) in 1980 and transformed news consumption into a 24-hour affair.

• Newsworld debuted on July 31, 1989 at 6 a.m. with a taped recording of the national anthem and prepared speeches by CBC President Pierre Juneau, CBC TV vice president Denis Harvey, information programming chief Trina McQueen and Newsworld chief Joan Donaldson.

• Toronto Star media critic Antonia Zerbisias observed, "And so, CBC Newsworld took its first clumsy steps yesterday. But it kept on its feet, doggedly determined to keep going through audio failures, technical hitches, and satellite snafus. It faltered, it fumbled. But it didn't fall." (August 1, 1989)

• Star reporter Greg Quill similarly remarked: "It was not a slick, well-rehearsed debut, by any standard. Newsworld's first day was riddled with technical glitches, confused performances, incomplete reports, muddled audio and video connections and long, irritating silences." But Quill also noted that Newsworld offered an important service and he expected the technical problems to soon be resolved.

• CNN's Ted Turner sent a congratulatory telegram to CBC Newsworld on its inaugural day that read, "Congratulations. As one who has been there, I'm aware of the butterflies and the glitches...they never stop."

• CBC Newsworld's first year of programming included a current events program titled Canada Live, the cross-country news program The Country, Newsworld Morning, Business World and Fashion File.

• Advertising revenue and cable subscriptions pay for Newsworld's operating costs.

• As of 2006, all-news is a crowded field with national services such as CTV Newsnet and Toronto's CP24.

• In 2009 CBC Newsworld was rebranded as CBC News Network.

Also on July 31:
1917: The Third Battle of Ypres, also known as Passchedaele, begins in Belgium during the First World War. The Canadian Corps capture Passchendaele Ridge on Nov. 6 after attempts by the Australians, New Zealanders and British failed. The Canadians suffered more than 15,000 dead and were awarded nine Victoria Crosses for bravery.
1955: At 17, Marilyn Bell of Toronto becomes the youngest person to swim the English Channel.
Medium: Television
Program: CBC News
Broadcast Date: July 31, 1989
Guest(s): George Boyd, Joan Donaldson, Jane Gilbert, Paul Griffen, Pierre Juneau
Reporter: Glen Deir
Duration: 2:09

Last updated: July 21, 2014

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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