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JAY SWITZER - ACADEMY BOARD OF DIRECTORS' TRIBUTE AWARD

Presented to a Canadian individual for their extraordinary commitment to the growth of the Canadian media industry.

Jay Switzer’s first job in broadcasting, at the age of 16, was on the switchboard at Citytv, followed by regular Saturday nights as crew chief and floor director assembling the boxing ring with his high school classmates on Citytv’s live “Fight Night” broadcasts. The pay was $1.50 an hour but he got to clean George Chuvalo’s spit cup. During the summer break, when he was 17, Jay floor directed many pilots including “Beauty and The Beast”, where he was assigned to work with notorious Dutch madam, Xaviera Hollander, and wire her up with a lav mic.  

Jay also worked through high school and university as an installer for Maclean Hunter Cable, and later as a Media Research Analyst for The Financial Post. After completing his education at the University of Western Ontario, he returned to Citytv in 1983 as a junior program manager.  

Since CHUM (the company that had bought Citytv in 1978) could not afford to compete with the networks for costly American programs so Switzer instead focused on movies and reruns of youth-oriented shows like Star Trek. Switzer also co-wrote the license application that would bring MuchMusic to air, and over the following years was instrumental in CHUM’s expansion into other markets and innovative new services and platforms. He also presided over the export of such Citytv productions as FashionTelevision and MovieTelevision to markets around the globe, making CHUM among the first Canadian broadcasters to sell its homemade programs – and later, channel formats – internationally. Throughout the 1990s, Switzer oversaw the development of more specialty services such as Bravo!, Star!, Space, MuchMoreMusic, CP24 and many others.  

A proud champion of independent Canadian feature film and television production, Jay also led CHUM’s support of over 200 new Canadian feature films and today this remains one of his greatest passions. (Jay’s father Sruki, a passionate amateur pilot, instilled a love of aviation at a young age. Jay’s love of Canadian movies continues to be challenged every time he watches Lea Pools’ “La  femme de l’hôtel” where in Act 2, a flight from Montreal takes off for Paris. However the plane shown is a small, narrow body, two engine DC-9 that couldn’t possibly fly that distance. It’s quietly bothered Jay for thirty years; the film, however, is exceptional.)  

In 1995, Jay was named Vice President of Programming for CHUM Television, and in 2002 became the company’s President and CEO. CHUM was acquired by CTV-Globemedia in 2006 and Switzer left the company in 2007.  

In 2010 Jay co-founded Hollywood Suite, an independent multi-platform movie broadcaster with four channels distributed throughout Canada.  

Jay is also a board member of Canadian media companies William F. White International, Shaftesbury Films and OUTtv.  He is a former Vice Chair of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, and a former board member of the Banff World Television Foundation and the content industry trade association NATPE.  

Active in many industry, cultural, and community groups, Jay Switzer has been awarded numerous awards including the prestigious Canadian Council of Christians and Jews/Canadian Centre for Diversity Human Relations Award, the Women in Film-Toronto Crystal Award, and the Queen’s Jubilee Medal for significant contribution to Canada. Jay holds an MBA from Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario and a Bachelor of Commerce from University of Toronto.  

Jay’s absolute passion for the business is the result of a perfect triangle where his father Sruki was a highly respected cable tv engineer and his mother Phyllis, was an early champion of Canadian storytelling. Jay’s main passion today is to mentor  the next generation and bring friends together on new projects.  

Jay is married to actress Ellen Dubin who he says influences and supports him everyday. Jay has been particularly inspired by, and thanks, industry leaders Christina Jennings and Paul Bronfman.