Znaimer, an internationally known Canadian broadcaster and producer
is the executive producer and president of Citytv, one of Canada's
leading commercial media production organizations. There he guides
program services such as Muchmusic, Bravo!, and MusiquePlus. Znaimer's
work in forging a distinctive style of television within Canada
and, more recently, internationally, identifies him as a clear auteur
within television production and he can rightfully claim that he
is the visionary of Canadian television. His early work in broadcasting
was as a co-creator producer of the CBC national radio program,
Cross-Country Check-up in the 1960s (a first in the world),
and in television as a co-host and producer of the CBC afternoon
talk show Take-Thirty with Adrienne Clarkson. After being
denied the opportunity to remake the radio phone-in program into
a national television program, Znaimer quit the CBC and launched
into private broadcasting. With no VHF licenses available, Znaimer
began Toronto's first UHF station, Channel 57, known as Citytv on
a limited budget in offices on Queen Street in Toronto in 1972.
The unique programming of Citytv has been Znaimer's central contribution
to the world of broadcasting. The station originally created a sensation
in the 1970s for its late-night soft-core porn movie stripping,
Baby Blue Movies which served to shock Toronto. But, its inner-city
focus, its celebration of a cosmopolitan ethnic diversity in its
choice of personalities and reporters, its transformation of news
into something that was decidedly less formal, more identifiably
urban and generally more positive, and its programming mix of just
news, movies and music all clearly made the station distinctive.
Indeed, Znaimer and his small UHF station served as the real-life
starting point for David Cronenberg's dystopic film Videodrome
the platform of Citytv, Znaimer has successfully produced a number
of programs, many of which have gained national and international
distribution. The New Music, (1978- ), designed as a Rolling
Stone-style magazine of the air was widely sold within Canada
and internationally. More recently, Znaimer has broadcast and distributed
two fashion related programs, Fashion Television and Ooh-La-La
again both nationally and internationally. Movie Television,
an interview and news program about Hollywood in particular has
also been well syndicated throughout Canada's independent stations.
The success of Citytv under Znaimer's direction allowed the company
that bought the station in 1981, CHUM limited, to launch Canada's
first satellite to cable music specialty channel Muchmusic. What
was clear about the look of Muchmusic was that it emulated Citytv.
Its style was irreverent, its use of hand-held cameras at often
canted angles was unending, its dependence on the liveness of television
and its possibility for spontaneity and its transformation of the
studio "backstage" into the foreground were signatures of Znaimer's
work as executive producer.
has contributed specific forms of television which celebrate the
potential spontaneity of the medium. His Toronto ChumCity building
(1987), the home of City, Muchmusic and Bravo! is described as the
first studio-less television station. With complete cabling and
wiring through 35 exposed "hydrants", any part of the building can
be converted into an exhibition site for broadcast. Several conceptual
approaches to television have been registered trademarks developed
by Znaimer. The building itself is trademarked as the "Streetfront
Studio-less Television Operating System" and is marketed internationally.
The Vox populi box at the front of the building is trademarked "The
Speaker's Corner" where anyone by dropping a dollar into the slot
can speak on any issue and the message will be broadcast.
ventures of Znaimer, both nationally and internationally, have met
with more circumscribed success. His involvement with a 1992 bid
to set up a similar inner-city style of television for Britain (along
with Thames Television and Time-Warner) for the proposed Channel
Five was in the end not accepted. His recent launch of another Specialty
channel, Bravo!, which rebroadcasts past Canadian television programs
and films has had limited appeal and financial viability. Znaimer
was involved in setting up a third television network in New Zealand
which once again built on his tried programming flow strategies
developed at Citytv. His launch of a Spanish version of Muchmusic,
Muchmusica in Buenos Aires Argentina in 1994 has gained access to
over 1.5 million via cable and thousands of others via satellite
in South America. The launch of Muchmusic into the United States
cable market in 1994 has also produced access to a further 4 million
versatility within the arts has occasionally led to on-camera performances.
He has been an on-and-off actor over the last two decades with film
credits including Atlantic City (1980) and, more regularly,
an on-air narrator/interviewer in a number of programs, most notably
The Originals. His most recent large scale production for
the CBC is a clear acknowledgment of his role in pioneering a unique
style of television. A four-part series entitled TVTV: The Television
Revolution(1995) was hosted and produced by Znaimer.
style of television represents a unique contribution to broadcasting.
He has developed a localized style with up to 40 hours a week of
local content that because of its connection to the particular urban
landscape has gained a certain resonance and exportability to other
urbanized cultures. In addition, Znaimer has emphasised the concept
of the flow of television in various formats. Rather than a focus
on narrative conclusion, Znaimer's programming style identifies
how television can attempt to capture--however partially--the becoming
aspect of contemporary life. He has been able to achieve this vision
of interactive, urban, hip television through repeated financial
success in Toronto, generally recognized as one of the most competitive
television markets in North America. The apparent cost of his studio-less
studio is roughly one quarter that of regular television stations.
Portions of this style have been copied throughout North American
television and to a lesser degree internationally.
Photo courtesy of Moses Znaimer/ Citytv
ZNAIMER. Born 1942 in Kulab, Tajikistan; family fled to Shanghai,
arrived in Canada in 1948 and settled in Montréal. Educated at McGill
University, Montreal, B.A. in philosophy and politics; Harvard University,
M.A. in government. Joined the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
as radio and TV producer/director/host of several shows from 1965
to 1969; vice president, T'ang Management Ltd. and Helix Investments;
co-founder, president, chief executive office and executive officer,
Citytv, 1972, Much Music, 1984, Musique Plus, 1986, and Bravo!,
1995 TVTV: The Television Revolution
Cross-Country Checkup (co-producer)
"Access Boys Ready for Opposition to Moses Znaimer's Access Network
Deal with Alberta Government." Calgary (Canada) Herald, 12
"The Gospel According to Moses: the Bad Boy of Canadian Broadcasting."
Maclean's (Toronto, Canada), 8 May 1995.
"Looking for Meaning in TV's 'Flow'." Globe and Mail (Toronto,
Canada), 3 May 1995.
"The Masque of Moses Znaimer's Medium--Drainie." Globe and Mail
(Toronto, Canada), 13 April 1995.
Disposes Formal Launch of Bravo!" Globe and Mail (Toronto,
Canada), 28 March 1995.
Max "Toronto's City-Tv to Export its Savvy." Variety (Los
Angeles), 26 July 1993.
"Wholly Moses: Znaimer Takes on TV." Montreal (Quebec, Canada)
Gazette, 7 April 1995.
Programming in English; Citytv;