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September 1999

Cable Television’s
Commercial-Free Treasures
for Educators

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By Mike Budd

Unearthing a buried treasure: free, copyright-cleared television programming for teachers across Canada.

Has the search for relevant classroom resources ever seemed like a treasure hunt?

New curriculum expectations demand more dynamic resources as teachers extend learning opportunities beyond the classroom walls. Fortunately, educators hunting for quality television programming can focus their search on Cable in the Classroom, a non-profit, public service initiative by Canadian cable companies and programming services.

Launched in 1995, Cable in the Classroom (CITC) provides engaging, commercial-free, copyright-cleared educational programs free of charge to publicly-funded schools across the country.

The fact that local cable companies contribute free cable installation and service to eligible schools has been much appreciated by educators with shrinking budgets. Once the cable is in place, the school has free access to some of the best programs available in English and French, including A&E, The Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel, CBC Newsworld, History Television, CNN, YTV, MuchMusic, The Life Network, TSN, TFO, TV5, Canal Famille, Canal Vie and RDI.


The only mandatory learning curve to be overcome is the programming of a VCR (ugh!). Most of the programming supplied by Cable in the Classroom airs during the night or early morning hours. Teachers record the programs of interest to them, and then utilize them to assist students in the attainment of curriculum expectations. Helpful lesson plans and other resources are available for much of the programming, and most are easily accessible on the web sites of the networks.

Teacher-librarians are obviously valuable partners in the use of Cable in the Classroom programming. Acting as an information specialist and a partner in action, they can help tape desired programming, collect related materials and organize a CITC videotape collection.

If you are familiar with the Cable in the Classroom magazine, you are aware of its value. The magazine, along with the web site, provides readers with a schedule and descriptions of all Cable in the Classroom programs. It also features engaging articles written for and by teachers. The latest issue of the Cable in the Classroom magazine is forwarded directly to the principal of your school. For more information, contact the national office at 1-800-244-9049 or visit the web site at


• classroom resource available free of charge with no strings attached
• all programming completely commercial-free
• quality, educational programming that is curriculum-relevant
• copyright clearance for flexible use of recorded programs
• up-to-date Canadian and international content in both official languages
• support for media literacy and career exploration
• application of multiple intelligences in learning
• opportunities for student video production
• integration with computers in the classroom and telecommunications.

In order to avoid potential pitfalls, consider copyright infringement when using programs not officially designated as Cable in the Classroom. And always refer to the official schedule of programming in the magazine or on the web site. Educators have a choice of over 360 hours of quality, copyright-cleared programming per month.

This commercial-free treasure is no longer buried!

Mike Budd is a teacher-consultant with the Greater Essex County District School Board. His e-mail address is