299 Queen Street West in Toronto
299 Queen Street West, also known as Bell Media Queen Street, is an office and studio complex located at the intersection of Queen Street West and John Street in Downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Currently the corporate head office of Bell Media the building previously served as the headquarters of CTVglobemedia until BCE Inc. acquired CTV in 2011 as well as CHUM Television, a division of CHUM Limited, until CTV acquired CHUM in 2007, and was once known as the CHUM-City Building.
With its 1913 neo-Gothic terra cotta façade, the building is designated as a heritage property by the City of Toronto's Heritage Preservation Services under the Ontario Heritage Act and has served as a broadcast facility since 1987.
The building houses various Bell Media television properties previously owned by CTV and CHUM, such as Bravo!, BNN, CP24, The Comedy Network, Comedy Gold, E!, Investigation Discovery, MTV2, MuchMusic, MuchMore and Space, as well as the master control operations for the CTV Two television stations in Southern Ontario (CTV Two Windsor, CTV Two London, CTV Two Barrie and CTV Two Ottawa). In addition, CTV's entertainment news program eTalk has been produced at the building since 2008.
Although the building bears a CTV signage on its east façade, it currently houses the downtown news bureau for CTV Toronto but its primary studios for that station is located at the 9 Channel Nine Court at Highway 401 and McCowan Road in Scarborough, where most of the other Bell Media-owned channels such as Discovery Channel Canada along with most of the other Discovery Channel Canada's offshoot affiliates, TSN along with TSN's offshoot affiliates such as TSN2 as well as the master controls for the CTV stations in Eastern Canada (see below).
Tours of the facilities are held regularly.
History and architecture
The five-storey building was originally constructed as the headquarters of the Methodist Church of Canada in 1913 by Burke, Horwood and White. The Methodists joined with two other denominations to form the United Church of Canada in 1925, for which the building served as the headquarters until 1959. By this time the Ryerson Press, originally the publishing arm of the Methodist Church, had grown to occupy the entire building. The building was purchased by CHUM in 1985, and was re-opened in May 1987 as the new headquarters for the company and its various outlets, including Citytv Toronto (which was previously located at 99 Queen St. East).
The building's east wall is decorated with an actual older style news truck seemingly bursting out of the building; the front tires of the truck can be seen spinning from time to time. The truck previously bore the old "CityPulse Live-Eye" decal; has been overhauled with the "CP24 Breaking News" decal following the acquisition by CTVgm.
On the northwest corner is the former Speakers' Corner videobooth, where for a dollar anyone can record two minutes of oneself. Citytv says it receives over 50 hours of video per week, which its staff edits into short vignettes and a half-hour show. Bell Media plans for future use of the video booth for their portfolio of channels.
While the outside facade has been restored and remains intact, the building's interior has been modernized into one of the world's most innovative media complexes. 299 Queen Street West has no TV studios: the entire building has been rigged for audio and video. The building has been engineered so that public space, working areas, offices, and even the parking lot may all be used as optimal shoot locations. Many television shows produced by the various outlets operating out of the building, such as Citytv's Breakfast Television, CityLine and the former Electric Circus, were filmed live on the ground floor. The ground floor features giant glass sliding partitions so that the building can be open to the street. The annual MuchMusic Video Awards show is held as a street party that takes place in the parking lot, rooftop, as well as Queen and John Streets adjacent to the building.
299 Queen Street West served as the national broadcast headquarters for the 2007 Live Earth concert, with several CTVgm-owned media outlets and personalities collaborating to broadcast the live event nationally for 28 hours. The building also served as the headquarters for CTV's multi-platform coverage of the 32nd Toronto International Film Festival in September 2007, acting as the launching pad of red carpet coverage, galas, film parties, film premieres, festival breaking news, and other related events. Various corporate divisions, such as eTalk, Star!, MuchMusic, MTV Canada, Bravo!, FashionTelevisionChannel and Canada AM, collaborated on the event coverage.
Although acquired by Bell Media together with other CHUM entities, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission required CTVgm to sell Citytv Toronto and four other Citytv stations in Canada to Rogers Media in 2007. Since then, the Citytv signage at the front building was replaced with an eTalk logo; the Citytv logos on the landmark mural behind the Virgin Mobile at MuchMusic store were replaced and overhauled with various logos of Bell Media's co-owned television channels, as well as the logo for CTV's entertainment news program eTalk shown one dish; the CityPulse Live-Eye banner on the truck sticking out of Bell Media's 299 Queen Street West headquarters was overhauled with a CP24 Breaking News logo; and the main Citytv signage on the building's east façade was replaced with the CTV signage and a private balcony, looking out from the company's boardroom. Citytv Toronto officially moved out of 299 Queen Street West into its new home at 33 Dundas Street East on September 8, 2009.
BNN later moved in to the building on December 6, 2010.
Other Bell Media facilities in Toronto
Alongside 299 Queen Street West, other Bell Media properties are operated from other facilities in the Toronto area:
- Several Bell channels, including CTV's flagship station, CTV Toronto along with CTV News Channel, TSN, TSN2 and Discovery Channel Canada as well as the master controls for the CTV stations in Eastern Canada (including CTV Winnipeg, CTV Southwestern Ontario, CTV Northern Ontario, CTV Ottawa and CTV Montreal) as well as some of the technical operations for TSN Radio 1050 are operated from 9 Channel Nine Court in Agincourt located at Highway 401 and McCowan Road.
- Studios for TSN Radio 1050, 104.5 CHUM-FM and Flow 93.5 are currently located at 250 Richmond Street West at Richmond and Duncan streets which is adjacent to 299 Queen Street West.
- MTV Canada's studios are located at the Masonic Temple at Davenport Road and Yonge Street.