This April marks the beginning of the next half a century of CTN services. Let’s call that Phase 5. For those who are curious, what follows is a description of Phases 1 through 4.

“Three Holes in the Wall.” That was the title of the first document that was sent to the Administrators of Diocesan Schools, early 1966, to describe the innovative system now known as The Catholic Telemedia Network. That document was the unofficial manual of how teachers would hook into the television network scheduled to unveil in March of that same year.

Only six months prior, the full scope of the project was presented to Most Rev. Bryan J. McEntegart, DD, the fourth Bishop of Brooklyn. A 21 page report was prepared by Father Michael Dempsey, Assistant Superintendent,  under the direction of the Secretary of Education, Msgr. Eugene Molloy, which described how the diocese would build the transmission, school, and studio infrastructures of one of the first diocesan TV systems in the country. Competitive bids came in from companies we well recognize: General Electric, North American Philips Company, Sylvania Electric, R.C.A., and Westinghouse Electric. The bottom line was $1,450,000 – an impressive number for the times.

What is most remarkable is the timeline of the build. The seed was planted in June 1964 when the Diocese formally applied to the FCC for licenses to these newly allocated frequencies. Western Union Telegrams were received from FCC Commissioner Ben Waple, which granted the Diocese construction permits for the “new Instructional TV Fixed Stations.” A consulting body of private and public educators, civic leaders, and local clergy was assembled to make a strategic plan.

The connector used to hook into "hole" number 2 to receive CTN

The connector used to hook into “hole” number 2 to receive CTN

Construction was completed in schools, hospitals, and administration sites, and the business of education began; thousands of Admiral Television sets were delivered into classrooms, and teachers were trained so that they knew to which “hole in the wall” they should connect.

The first broadcast transmission of Educational TV was sent from Bishop Ford HS on April 18th 1966 with over 240,000 students capable of watching. What followed in Phases 2 – 4 were hundreds of thousands of programs, many as full year courses.

As ETV systems grew throughout school districts, an industry of educational producers arose, allowing for a more diverse library of material that could now be leased for air.

Phase 5 has now begun. TV sets have been replaced by computers and computers are being replaced by personal tablets.   We look forward to an equally impressive future as diocesan teachers use CTN Internet based services, Learn360, Mathletics, and EducationCity, to bring the world into the classroom. The digital learning services of CTN allow 24/7 access to instructional materials in and out of school. Each of our services is a tool for the 21st century learner, enabling interactivity and collaboration as well as providing personal learning opportunities (differentiation.)

Join us in our anniversary celebration – check out our website, ctnbq.org/CTN50 for more information about our 50 years in the classroom. CTN truly celebrates Catholic Education!