In 1977, after years of overcoming unique obstacles that only the North can present, Whitehorse cable TV station WHTV had grown to a dozen colour channels. Having once offered programming that included a camera capturing the locals down on Main Street and another timeslot with a live shot of a goldfish bowl, WHTV was now a success.WHTV’s owner, Rolf Hougen, was becoming interested in another venture ~ satellite delivery of TV to the Yukon and other parts of Northern Canada. In 1979 he submitted a proposal to the Department of Communications and the CRTC. As the government examined this possibility, Hougen put together a group of broadcasters who jointly applied for a licence to deliver Canadian TV services to northern, remote and under-serviced regions of Canada.
On March 1st, 1980, Canadian Satellite Communications Incorporated, now known as Cancom, made its presentation to the CRTC. When questioned by the board on how long, once licensed, it would take Cancom to be up and running, Rolf Hougen declared “ninety days”. His response was met with raised eyebrows and dubious laughter.Just over a year later they were granted a license, and within ninety days exactly, all four signals were beaming.
Canada was the first country to launch a commerical satellite uplink into orbit, and now a Canadian company, Cancom, had constructed the first scrambled satellite television network in the world and built the most technologically sophisticated commercial master control centre in North America. They’d also succeeded in supplying Canadian programming in the country’s many remote areas, as well as supporting aboriginal broadcasting.
Eight years after Cancom’s presentation to the CRTC, Cablecaster magazine wrote “...CANCOM is now a symbol of the entrepreneurship and innovative spirit…”.