When CBC Newsworld launched in 1989

CBC Newsworld, Canada's first cable news channel, encounters some stumbles and successes in its debut on July 31, 1989.

It was all news, all the time -- just for Canadians

All news, all the time

33 years ago
Duration 1:59
CBC introduces Newsworld, an all-news network, on July 31, 1989.

When viewers first tuned in to CBC Newsworld on July 31, 1989, they saw a slew of technical hiccups. Satellites lost their signals, audio crackled in and out, and hosts clumsily stumbled through their first demanding day.

That applied only to those who could actually get the channel. Due to a disagreement with cable companies in Nova Scotia, Alberta and Quebec, Newsworld wasn't universally available.

But, for the first time in this country, Canadians had their own dedicated 24-hour news channel. Designed for on-the-go viewers, Newsworld offered frequent news updates and magazine-style programming. The network had an exhilarating if imperfect debut, as shown in this local Halifax television report.

The CRTC had granted CBC the licence for the news cable station in 1987, but it took two years to get off the ground.

Newsworld debuted at 6 a.m. on Day 1 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.

Newsworld Morning was just one of many shows that debuted on CBC's all-news channel on July 31, 1989. (CBC Archives/Newsworld)

'It faltered, it fumbled. But it didn't fall'

Toronto Star media critic Antonia Zerbisias observed, in a column that ran the day after the launch: "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."

Toronto 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.

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

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

Newsworld offered frequent news updates and magazine-style programming when it launched in 1989. (CBC Archives/The National)