Hougen Group

WHTV Cable

WHTV, “Northern Television Systems Limited” began in 1958. WHTV offers its clients a wide variety of knowledge, entertainment, and up-to-the-minute news through over seventy channels, including specialty programming like outdoor adventure, comedy, cooking, and dedicated movie channels. WHTV also has two local channels, with information on community events, municipal politics, and fundraising for non-profit groups.WHTV subscribers can also enjoy high speed internet access, serviced by the local customer support staff.In the mid-1950s, there were many forms of entertainment in the Yukon, from the Aurora Borealis streaming across a winter sky to a troop of CanCan dancers livening up the night. However, for those looking for activity on a television set, the Yukon offered nothing.

Rolf Hougen began the project of bringing television to Whitehorse by travelling to Ketchikan, Alaska, to see a new cable TV station that had been built from scrap. He returned to Whitehorse convinced it could work. Along with young laywers, George Van Roggen and Erik Nielsen, the vision began to slowly take form. In a couple years, NHL star Neil Colville and local Bert Wybrew were among the main players, and soon they were the man power that would keep the tiny station running.

There was one camera in a room at the old Whitehorse Inn, and a couple miles of cable around the town. Bert Wybrew and Neil Colville climbed the poles and wired up subscriber’s homes during the day and operated the TV station at night. They worked 16 hours a day, seven days a week. After being told by experts that it would never work, Wybrew replied “it’s a good thing we didn’t know that in the beginning because if we did, we wouldn’t have tried it”. Despite unheard of challenges, WHTV wasn’t off air during scheduled time for more than five hours. It was the first cable company to show local interviews, news, weather, and live coverage of social events. This programming included broadcasts from the bowling alley in the basement, a camera simply pointed out the window and capturing the locals down on Main Street, and the infamous program, “Rippling Rhythms”, a live shot of a goldfish bowl accompanied by easy listening music.

The small station did its best to show its subscribers news and sports from “Outside”. Sports tapes were shipped up from down south, but were late and without commentary. Christmas parades were shown long after the snow melted, but for the entertainment-hungry viewers, any variety was welcome. By the mid-1960s, WHTV was showing programs with only a one-week delay. Soon after that, news and sports were being shipped by air and the delay was down to 24 hours.

In 1969, WHTV moved to new studios on the second floor of the Broadcast Building, which it shared with sister radio station, CKRW. The small cable station that now had an inventory of over $100,000 and within the next year would employ a staff of nine. By 1977, WHTV had grown to a dozen channels of colour TV and was officially a success.

In August 2007, the company was sold to Northwestel Inc.