Giving new voices a chance to be heard

Although I doubt most applicants would agree, the recently concluded digital specialty channel hearing before the CRTC has been the easy part of the process to bring new TV channels to Canadians. Now comes the brutal weeding of applications by CRTC staff and commissioners to see who gets anointed, and beyond that, undertaking the actual launch of the channels by the Fall of 2001.

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CCR People

Bill Roberts, the secretary-general of the North American Broadcasters Association (NABA), has accepted an offer to lead Vision TV as president and CEO, effective Oct. 20. Fil Fraser, Vision TV’s current president/CEO, will act as special advisor to Roberts with primary responsibility for external relations until the end of his tenure in December 2000. Roberts joined NABA in 1996 and led the organization during a period of tremendous growth. Previously, he was a senior policy analyst for the CRTC, a senior VP at the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, and a director at TVOntario.

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CCR Short Takes

Canwest Global second largest donor to Liberals last year
Data provided by Elections Canada show Canwest Global/Global TV was the second-largest donor to the federal Liberal party in 1999, giving the party’s national office $87,622.21. Other donors to the Liberals included: Bell Canada/BCE/ExpressVu ($51,438.87); the Rogers group of companies ($48,985.43); Craig Broadcast Systems ($48,297.66); and, Telus Corp ($34,567.14).
Donors to the Canadian Alliance included: Telus ($20,158); BCE ($10,000); Rogers Communications ($10,000); Teleglobe Canada ($5,209); and, Agincourt Productions ($4,180). The Progressive Conservatives’ donors included: the Rogers group of companies ($28,669); Telus ($11,178); and, CanWest Global Communications ($10,000).

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Bell ExpressVu predicts faster roll out of HDTV as a result of CTV acquisition

One of the spin-off benefits of BCE Inc’s purchase of CTV Inc is a faster roll out of HDTV in Canada, a senior BCE executive told CCR. Alain Gourd, president and CEO of BCE Media, said in an interview that the acquisition has pressed Bell to push ahead with the testing of technology to launch at least two, and as many as four, HDTV channels on its Bell ExpressVu satellite system by Christmas.

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ExpressVu clears major regulatory hurdle in battle for big building subscribers

Bell ExpressVu has scored a pivotal victory in the competitive battle for customers living in apartment buildings and condominiums. In a ruling that wasn’t unexpected, on September 26 the CRTC approved a licence amendment that now allows the DTH company to serve multiple unit dwellings (MUDs) using terrestrial facilities (i.e. fibre) that cross property lines or public streets.

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SaskTel faces industry & political foes in bid to compete in Saskatchewan cable market

The cable industry wants the CRTC to delay SaskTel’s entry into the cable TV market until proper safeguards are put in place to prevent the telco from subsidizing its cable rates with monopoly telephony revenues. A hearing is scheduled to begin October 30 in Calgary to review SaskTel’s application for a broadcast distribution licence serving several communities throughout Saskatchewan.

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Heritage opts for tinkering, rather than overhaul of TV and film financing funds

The federal Heritage ministry has signaled that it’s not about to make major changes to the way grant money is doled out to the country’s television and movie producers. Instead, in a report released in mid-September, the ministry set out a roadmap for a go-slow policy that would increase communication between agencies, but leave the present system fairly much intact.

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