U.S. seals Canada’s choice for digital TV transmission standard, flaws and all

Canada is sticking to its original game plan for rolling out digital television, despite a U.S. decision this month to use a standard that many critics insist is flawed. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) dismissed the need for further testing of the 8-VSB transmission system on Jan. 19, reaffirming an earlier decision that denied a request to authorize the European standard for the U.S. market.

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Vivendi’s benefits package persuades Copps to approve Seagram acquisition

Heritage minister Sheila Copps decided to waive foreign ownership guidelines that would have prevented Vivendi Universal from purchasing Seagram Ltd, after concluding that the company’s $300-million benefits package warranted an exception to the restriction. Under the Foreign Investment Guidelines, foreign takeovers of Canadian-controlled film distribution firms are technically prohibited, although the minister does reserve the right to grant approval if there are net benefits to Canada (CCR, July 6/00).

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Total government spending on culture increases

Government spending on culture hit $5.7 billion in 1998/99, ending four consecutive years of decline, according to new Statistics Canada data. In constant dollars, government spending was up 2.3% from 1997/98, the first real increase since 1990/91. Culture includes everything from broadcasting and museums to parks.

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Digital TV subscribers in Canada will be among first to use V-chip starting March 1

After five years of technology testing, regulatory tinkering and program classifying, broadcasters and distributors are finally ready to rollout a nation-wide system that enables parents to block out violent or sexually explicit programming. Starting March 1, parents that subscribe to DTH or digital cable, or have a V-chip enabled TV or external terminal, will be able to use a Canadian classification system to ensure their children only watch programs suitable for their age group.

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