July 9, 2003   Shaw asks for viewer support in bid to bring U.S. channels to CanadaShaw Communications Inc.’s web site contained an area where Canadians could cast a vote in favour of bringing more U.S. television channels to Canada. The Canadian Cable Television Association (CCTA), on behalf of its members including Shaw, has applied for CRTC approval to distribute 17 additional U.S. channels in Canada (CCR, June 30/03). The page, entitled “Interested in HBO?,” was removed from the Shaw site this week.With regard to another application by the CCTA to distribute some foreign high-definition services in Canada, sources tell Canadian Communications Reports that the CRTC has indefinitely put on hold the association’s application for permission to distribute HD Net and Discovery HD (CCR, May 8/03). The regulator has yet to develop a policy covering that area of high-definition programming.CCTA, CAB praise Federal Court of Canada decision on black market satellite TV equipment seizuresThe Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) and the Canadian Cable Television Association (CCTA) this week praised in a media release a June 27 Federal Court of Canada decision that upheld an earlier order allowing the seizure of illegal satellite TV reception equipment and access cards. The court decision was made in conjunction with a lawsuit launched in April by the CCTA, CAB (and some of their members) and Vidéotron ltée. The court decision also included the issuance of an order prohibiting the defendants, all located in Ontario, from continuing to sell such equipment until the trial matter is concluded. The July 7 joint media release from the CCTA and CAB comes just two weeks after the private broadcasters’ association accused the cable association of abandoning the anti-piracy coalition to which both organizations belong (CCR, June 30/03).Rogers replacing EdgeTV with CHUM’s MuchLOUDRogers Cable Inc. has informed digital subscribers that it is replacing Corus Entertainment Inc.’s soon-to-be-defunct digital specialty channel EdgeTV with CHUM Ltd.’s MuchLOUD in its digital packages. In a June 25 letter to affected subscribers, Rogers notes, “In order to minimize any disruption to you, we are pleased to announce that we will be adding MuchLOUD to your current Digital Cable Specialty Channel package to replace EdgeTV. This change will occur on July 15, 2003. MuchLOUD is the channel that most closely resembles the content of EdgeTV, and will continue to provide you with access to this type of music video service.” Corus announced June 12 that it would be pulling EdgeTV off the air in July (CCR, June 20/03).Bell ExpressVu to fly with WestJetBeginning late this year or early next year, passengers on WestJet Airlines Ltd. will be able to watch live 24 channels of satellite TV distributor Bell ExpressVu’s programming while flying, the discount airline announced July 8. WestJet has signed a 13-year deal with LiveTV for ExpressVu’s TV service, which it will initially offer for free on its 700-series 737 aircraft. LiveTV will provide and maintain the satellite receiving equipment on the aircraft, and WestJet will purchase the seat equipment and monitors and lease the satellite receiving equipment. WestJet expects to begin installing the equipment on its aircraft in the fourth quarter of 2003, and have 28 of the aircraft outfitted by the first quarter of 2004. LiveTV is a subsidiary of JetBlue Airways Corp., a U.S. discount carrier.Cogeco digital subscriber base grows, prices also raised againCogeco Cable Inc. added 6,104 net digital cable set-top boxes and 5,676 net digital cable households in its 2003 fiscal third quarter ended May 31, according to financial results released last week by the cableco. The company ended the quarter with a total of 177,583 digital boxes deployed in 158,441 digital households. The number of basic cable customers decreased by 7,662 in the quarter, but subscriber losses were a third lower than losses registered in the same period last year.Cogeco has made good on a promise to raise rates. The cableco announced that it implemented an average basic cable rate increase of $1.75 for Ontario customers on June 15. An average rate increase of $2.20 for digital cable customers in Quebec was implemented on July 2. In a conference call with financial analysts, Cogeco president and CEO Louis Audet said rates will increase further, adding that cable rates are still lower in Canada than in other countries.CanWest launches COOL Records label to complement jazz radio stations, planned diginetCanWest Global Communications Corp. has launched a new international record label, COOL Records, to distribute the music of new and established jazz artists. The label will be led by Ross Porter, who has already been named VP of programming for CanWest’s new jazz radio station COOL FM and its planned digital specialty channel COOL TV (CCR, June 5/03). The label will be located at the company’s head office in Winnipeg. CanWest will also launch a jazz radio station in Kitchener ON, and has applications before the CRTC for similar radio stations in Montreal and Edmonton. According to Statistics Canada data released July 7, sales of jazz and blues labels in Canada soared 45.5% from 1998 to 2000, while sales of almost all other forms of music declined.CTV signs on with Creative Artists Agency for help in securing co-productionsCTV Inc. has signed on with talent and literary agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA) to help it secure co-productions with U.S. broadcasters, Canada’s largest private broadcaster announced July 8. It is looking for foreign partners for movies of the week, scripted entertainment and reality programming.“There are tremendous opportunities in the international television marketplace for our clients,” CAA co-chair and partner Lee Gabler said in a media release. “CTV is a market leader and should be in business with other important broadcasters throughout the world, particularly in the U.S.”Broadcast industry again proves to be big donator to federal Liberal partyBroadcast industry players continued to be big donors to the Liberal Party of Canada in 2002, according to documents released July 2 by Elections Canada. Among the largest corporate donators to the Liberals were BCE Inc., which gave $29,305, and its subsidiary Bell Globemedia, which donated $13,692. Broadcaster CanWest Global Communications Corp. donated $5,989.10, CanWest Media Inc. $4,575.20, Global Television Network Inc. (Calgary) $896.04, and the company also made further donations through some of the newspapers it owns.Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc. gave the Grits $10,601.80 with another contribution from its Quebec distribution arm Alliance Atlantis Vivafilm amounting to $4,305.50. Astral Media Inc. gave $8,611.00 and Astral Radio Inc. $4,305.50. The Craigs were another major contributor, with Craig Broadcasting Alberta Inc. contributing $9,334.50, Craig Broadcasting Systems Inc. on the list for two donations ($913.17 and $2,787.60), and Craig Wireless International Inc. giving $4,269.40. Rogers Group of Companies gave $39,910.45, while Rogers Media Publishing donated $5,989.10. Shaw Communications Inc. donated $1,448.02. Law firm McCarthy Tétrault, which does legal work in the broadcast area, gave $32,937.07.Industry associations were again on the list of Liberal donors, including the Canadian Association of Broadcasters ($10, 966.22), Canadian Film and Television Production Association ($1,309.12), Canadian Cable Television Association ($5,106.35), Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association ($1,101.34), Writers Guild of Canada ($896.04), Canadian Association of Film Distributors and Exporters ($1,430.55), and the Directors Guild of Canada ($4,269.40).Individual donors to the Liberals included Craig Broadcasting’s Boyd Craig ($448.02), CRTC commissioner Barbara Cram ($440), Vision TV president and CEO Bill Roberts ($430.55) and former CBC chair Guylaine Saucier ($1,000).The broadcast industry was also a major contributor to the Liberal Party in 2001 (CCR, Aug. 29/02).CRTC prevents Quebecor from entering radio business in denying Astral Media radio transferDue to concerns about media ownership concentration and cross-media ownership in Quebec, the CRTC has denied the sale of seven Astral Media Inc. radio stations to a partnership controlled by Quebecor Inc. (Broadcasting Decision 2003-205). The commission also rejected applications by Quebecor subsidiary TVA to start four separate radio stations in Quebec (Broadcasting Decision 2003-204).Telus gets VOD licence for CityPlaceThe CRTC has approved an application by Telus Entertainment Inc. for a video-on-demand (VOD) licence for the condominium complex known as CityPlace in Toronto (Broadcasting Decision 2003-210). In the proceeding, the Canadian Cable Television Association (CCTA) argued that since Telus would be providing functions that are typically undertaken by a distributor – i.e., the distribution of primarily feature films on a VOD basis – it should have to apply for a broadcast distribution undertaking licence (CCR, April 25/02). But the commission ruled that the VOD service proposed by Telus “does not fall within the definition of a distribution undertaking as set out” in the Broadcasting Act. The decision comes almost two years after Telus applied for the VOD licence on Sept. 14, 2001 (CCR, April 12/02).CanWest’s Australian operations report 24% growth in EBITDANetwork TEN, the Australian TV network majority owned by CanWest Global Communications Corp. and its Eye Corp. out-of-home advertising operation, recorded a 24% growth in EBITDA to A$42.5 million in the third quarter ended May 31, 2003. Television revenues for the quarter increased by 14% to A$168 million, compared to the same quarter a year earlier, CanWest announced July 2. CanWest said Network TEN has managed to attract a bigger slice of the advertising pie as its ratings have grown.Canada imported more in cultural goods than it exported in 2002: StatsCanCanada imported more cultural goods from other countries than it exported in 2002, according to Statistics Canada figures released July 9. It was the first increase in exports of cultural goods, which includes everything from books and periodicals to films, videotapes, compact discs and original art, since 1998. Canada sold $2.3 billion worth of cultural goods to the world, up 3.8% from 2001, the slowest rate of growth in four years. It imported $3.6 billion in cultural goods, an increase of 6.5% from the previous year. As a result, Canada’s deficit in the trade of cultural goods widened to $1.3 billion in 2002 from $1.2 billion in 2001. The United States accounted for 96% of cultural goods exported from Canada, and 80% of imports.Film/video sales in Canada reach record $2.8 billion in 2000-2001, StatsCan reportsRevenues for film distributors and video wholesalers in Canada reached a record $2.8 billion in 2000-2001, up 13.1% from the $2.5-billion mark reached in 1999-2000, according to Statistics Canada figures released July 4. But the figures also revealed that Canadian films and videos continued to struggle in a domestic market dominated by foreign products. For example, Canadian content accounted for 16% of revenues in the conventional TV market in 2000-2001, down from 25% a year earlier.Canadian Idol continues to attract viewersThe average national audience to the fifth episode of Canadian Idol was 1.84 million (2+), according to broadcaster CTV Inc. “After five weeks on the air, Canadian Idol has surpassed the ratings threshold achieved by American Idol at the same point in the season on CTV (when comparing audiences for each series’ fifth episode),” CTV stated in a July 8 media release.Telefilm Canada Quebec office supports eight feature filmsThe Quebec office of Telefilm Canada has announced that eight feature films will receive funding support through the selective component of the Canada Feature Film Fund.FM radio sustains profitability of private radio broadcasting: StatsCanFM radio stations are at the root of the recent sustained level of profits for the overall radio industry, reports Statistic Canada. In 2002, FM radio stations achieved a 24.3% profit margin and 70% of FM stations realized a profit. In contrast, AM stations have consistently suffered losses since 1990.INTERNATIONAL NEWSViacom scrapping plans for Gay channelOutlet, the proposed 24-hour cable television channel for the Gay community from Viacom’s Showtime and MTV, has been indefinitely placed on hold, according to the gay news service Gay.com. The current economic climate was blamed for the change of plans. In Canada, Headline Media Group Inc.’s lesbian, gay and bisexual channel continues to struggle (CCR, June 5/03); CCR Update, Jan. 8/03).Japanese manufacturers working on high-definition video formatJapanese manufacturers are collaborating to develop a way to record and play high-definition digital video on cassette tapes now in use, the Associated Press wire service reports. Sony Corp., Canon, Sharp Corp., and Victor Co. of Japan are hoping to have the technology perfected by September. Spike Lee clears way for Viacom to rebrand TNN as SpikeTVViacom is again gearing up to go ahead with a rebranding of TNN as Spike TV. According to a joint public statement, Viacom and director Spike Lee have resolved the dispute over the name. The statement referred to new Viacom development projects for Lee and his wife, although more specifics of the deal were not released. “On reviewing the circumstances concerning the name change of the network, I no longer believe that Viacom deliberately intended to trade on my name when naming Spike TV,” said the film director in the statement.The Canadian Association of Broadcasters has complained to the CRTC about the rebranding of the channel in Canada as it feels Spike TV would be in direct competition with existing Canadian services in contravention of regulatory policy (CCR, June 30/02).