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Photo by Karsh courtesy the Canadian Communications Foundation
Globe and Mail - Saturday 11 December 2010
Pioneer CBC Television Producer and Broadcasting Executive; on Friday, December 3rd, 2010, aged eighty years, following a courageous battle with cancer.
A long time resident of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Michael was a Honours graduate of the University of British Columbia in Political Science. Following graduation he became the voice of the United Nations Radio in New York. On his return to Canada he headed up the newly formed United Nations Association and joined the start up of CBC-TV in 1952. Later, based in Ottawa, he was Coordinating Producer of the first televised Leadership Conventions, and the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in Montreal. He went on to become Manager of CBLT, Channel 5 Toronto. In 1966 he joined CTV at its launch and at 29 became Vice President of Programming responsible for the creation of W5 and the CTV National News. In 1975 he was named President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Cable Television Association where he played a key role in the introduction of satellite delivered specialty program services.
Sad to report the recent death of Michael Hind-Smith who was well known to many of us. Michael Hind-Smith had been head of the Canadian Cable Television Association and dealt with us on many spectrum issues in the 70s. He was also active in the International Institute for Communications.
12 December 2010
OBITUARY: Michael Hind-Smith: Broadcaster; cable advocate
NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, Ont. – Long-time head of the Canadian Cable Television Association, Michael Hind-Smith, died December 3rd from complications due to cancer. He was 80.
Hind-Smith was the longest-serving CCTA president and CEO and oversaw a period of massive growth and change in the cable business during his 15 years (1975-1990) heading the now defunct organization.
“He was such a good representative for the cable industry,” Rogers Communications vice-chairman Phil Lind told Cartt.ca in an interview. “He had some terrific battles with the CRTC (pay-TV, specialty channels, “6 and 5”, pole access) but he kept the association together for a long time. He was a great advocate.”
Born in England, Hind-Smith emigrated to Canada in the 40s and began working for CBC in 1952, rising to station manager at Toronto’s CBLT in 1960. He left the public broadcaster shortly thereafter for CTV and rose there from national director of programming to VP programming, overseeing the launch of CTV’s first national newscasts as well as W5, a newsmagazine which continues to this day.
After working for Power Corp and Maclean-Hunter, Hind-Smith was hired as president of the CCTA and began over a decade and a half of cajoling, conciliation, lobbying, negotiation, contracts and policy building both among – and on behalf of – his membership (whose board included the likes of Ted Rogers, JR Shaw and Andre Chagnon, among many other strong-willed entrepreneurs).
“The cable industry wasn’t even a teenager at that point. He presided over a very long period of industry growth,” added Lind, “and he kept us all together.”
“In those days there were literally hundreds of small cable operators, and they needed a strong industry association to take on the likes of Bell, BC Tel, AGT, SaskTel, Manitoba Tel and Maritime Tel, especially over issues of pole and duct access,” added renowned industry lawyer Bob Buchan. The CCTA was law firm Johnston & Buchan’s first client in 1980 (the practice built by J&B is now part of Fasken Martineau).
“Cable was the new kid on the block and the CRTC and the Department of Communications did not know whether cable was a potential force for good or evil,” added Buchan. “Michael helped to have the cable recognized as a legitimate dues-paying member of the club.”
And it was his bona fides as a broadcaster which helped cable in Ottawa. “He was a broadcaster from the programming side so it added great legitimacy,” added Lind. “He had credibility. They couldn’t dismiss us with the same sort of back of hand as they had been.”
Hind-Smith is survived by his wife of over 40 years, Sandy, children Stephanie (Marcel Meyer), Jennifer (Randy Marks) and David (Larinda) Hind-Smith and eight grandchildren. Michael and Sandy, a former television host producer and news voice for CJOH, a CTV affiliate, have established the Sandra McKee and Michael Hind-Smith Scholarship Fund at Ryerson University to provide funding for the completion of the degree year of a woman in the Faculty of Radio - TV Arts. Donations in memory of Michael should be directed to the Michael Hind-Smith and Sandra McKee Award via the “Supporting Ryerson” web page.
When Her Majesty the Queen visited the CBC's Toronto studios in October 2002, Michael Hind-Smith was one of seven CBC staffers who had been with the Corporation when Her Majesty ascended to the throne in 1952, and he and his colleagues were presented to the Queen as part of both the Queen's and the CBC's Jubilee celebrations.
Michael was born in Windsor, England on October 7th 1930, and educated at St. George's, Harpenden, and the Brighton College of Art. He sailed for Canada on the last voyage of the RMS Aquitania, arriving on March 12th 1948 He joined his father in Vancouver, and financed his education by pulling wet logs out of the Fraser River, buying fish at the River's Inlet Fish Cannery, and serving tables on CP's steamship run to Seattle. He later obtained an Honours degree in Political Science at U.B.C., and moved to Toronto in 1951 to attend the school of Graduate Studies at U of T.
In 1952, CBC Chief Producer Mavor Moore, who had seen Michael working as an intern in broadcasting at the United Nations headquarters in New York, hired him to host Pro and Con, CBC's first television discussion program and the forerunner of Nathan Cohen's Fighting Words.
Shortly thereafter, Michael joined the CBC as a public affairs and special events producer, working first in Winnipeg and then moving to Ottawa in 1955. While there, in 1957 he directed the Queen's first-ever broadcast direct to the people of Canada, and in 1959 he was television production coordinator for the Opening of the Lawrence Seaway by the Queen and President Eisenhower, seen live throughout North America.
In 1960 he became Station Manager of CBC's Toronto station, CBLT, but in 1961 he was lured away to the new private network, CTV, as National Program Director, and later Vice-President, Programming. During his five years at the network, he oversaw the introduction of CTV's first national newscasts, and the long-running public affairs program W5. Shortly after the affiliated stations took over ownership of the network in 1966, Michael left CTV to act as a consultant to the Power Corporation of Montreal, in its application for a new satellite-based television network. He then joined Foster Advertising as Vice-President Media and Programming. In 1972, he was hired by Maclean Hunter to set up M-H Video, to develop videocassette programming for business and government.
In 1975 Michael was appointed President and C.E.O of the Canadian Cable Television Association in Ottawa, where he played a key role in the introduction of the many new specialty channels that were to be delivered direct by satellite to cable, and ably represented the association at many CRTC Hearings. He retired from the C.C.T.A. in 1990, and at that time was named to the CCTA Honours List, and received the E.S. Rogers Sr. and Velma Rogers Graham Award "for outstanding contribution to Canadian broadcasting."
Michael Hind-Smith died on December 3rd 2010 of pneumonia.
Photo credit: copyright Karsh: Ottawa
Written by Pip Wedge - October, 2002