CMT is a Canadian English language discretionary specialty channel owned as a joint venture between Corus Entertainment (which owns a controlling 90% interest) and Paramount Networks Americas (which owns the remaining 10%), owners of the flagship CMT channel in the United States.
As with its U.S. counterpart, CMT previously devoted a large amount of its programming to country music, with such programming as music videos and concert specials. Over time, the channel shifted its focus towards family-oriented general entertainment such as sitcoms, to the point where music programming was eventually axed in August 2017.
It is one of two Paramount-branded channels that are owned by Corus; the companies also partner on Nickelodeon (which is wholly owned by Corus).
In June 1994, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) licensed a series of new Canadian specialty television channels; among the ones whose licence was granted was The Country Network, whose programming provisions required it to primarily feature country music videos (a minimum of 90%). The licence was granted to a partnership between Maclean-Hunter (which owned 60% majority control) and Rawlco Communications (which owned the remaining 40%).
In January 1, 1995, the channel launched as New Country Network (NCN). On that date, Canadian pay television service providers were not allowed to offer Country Music Television. In retaliation for being barred from Canada, the U.S. service launched a complaint under the North American Free Trade Agreement and ceased carriage of videos by Canadian artists without major U.S. record deals.
After months of negotiations, the matter was settled when it was announced that CBS Cable, then owners of CMT, would purchase a minority stake in the service. NCN was relaunched as CMT on October 31, 1996.