*Special Edition* European French-language television channel Paris Première will pull out of the Canadian market on December 27, Canadian Communications Reports has learned. The channel, introduced in Canada on digital cable a year and a half ago, has decided to abandon the small but growing digital television market due to low subscriber and viewer numbers, sources say. Meanwhile, Category 2 digital specialty TV channel MSNBC Canada could be the next Canadian diginet to disappear, according to Broadcasting Public Notice 2003-67, released December 18. Rogers Broadcasting Limited and Shaw Communications Inc., which each own 33.3% of the channel, have filed an application with the CRTC to add the full U.S. MSNBC signal to the list of television services that can be distributed in Canada on digital. If the application is approved, the U.S. channel, which also owns 33.3% of MSNBC Canada, would replace the Canadian service. Quebec cable operators Vidéotron ltée and Cogeco Cable Inc. were the first broadcast distributors to carry Paris Première along with other European channels in June 2002 (CCR, June 21/02). Jean-Paul Galarneau, Vidéotron’s general manager of communications, tells CCR that Paris Premiére’s decision to abandon the Canadian market was its alone, and that Vidéotron is disappointed the signal will disappear from its digital cable channel lineup. The cableco has informed its 29,000 customers who subscribe to the channel that it will disappear from the dial the day after Boxing Day. Customers have been informed of the move through a notice sent by mail and a crawler - a message on the bottom of television signals - placed on the channel. Vidéotron offers the channel in four different packages and on an à la carte basis. Some 2,000 of the 29,000 Vidéotron customers who subscribe to the channel do so on a standalone basis. Galarneau notes that Paris Première has not marketed its service to Vidéotron subscribers to the same extent as other European French-language channels available in Canada on digital, such as Planete. Paris Première COO Stephane Quéré expressed hope at the time of his and other European channels’ launch in Canada that their presence would boost the number of digital TV subscribers in Quebec. "I hope that the fact that there are more channels in French will help develop the digital offer," he told CCR. "Much of the new digital channels are English channels, so I hope these (French-language) channels will help boost digital penetration in Quebec…All I can say is that I hope this introduction will enable other French-speaking channels to come and make the digital offering larger." The only other distributors believed to carry Paris Première are satellite TV provider Bell ExpressVu LP, which launched the channel this past September, and small Quebec cable co-operative Coopérative de câblodistribution de l’arrière-pays, whose cable systems are interconnected with Vidéotron’s and thus receive signals including the Paris Première channel from Quebec’s largest cableco. A June 2002 news release announcing Vidéotron and Cogeco’s launch of Paris Première described the TV service as the second most-watched channel in France. Created in 1986, the channel provides a window on French arts and culture, including cinema, film festivals, theatre, literature, concerts, and fashion. Paris Première reaches more than 11 million viewers in France, the released noted. MSNBC Canada has approximately 285,000 subscribers and is carried by most cablecos that have a digital service and satellite TV provider Star Choice Communications Inc. It is not carried by Canada’s largest digital TV provider, Bell ExpressVu LP. A Rogers spokesperson tells CCR that the U.S. MSNBC channel is a popular channel and that viewers don’t want to watch a hybrid Canada-U.S. channel. "Rogers and Shaw, in consultation with their U.S. shareholding partner in MSNBC Canada, have come to the conclusion that, because of the unique programming challenges presented by a 24 hour breaking news format, the Canadian programming requirements are disruptive to subscribers and have proven to be financially burdensome beyond expectation, with the result that the MSNBC Canada service is not viable over the long term," the CRTC notice states. Shaw has also requested the addition of Bloomberg Television to the list of services that can be distributed on digital. It received a Category 2 licence for Bloomberg Television Canada in 2000, but Shaw informed the CRTC by letter earlier this year that it would not launch the channel. CCR will have more on these developments in its first full issue in 2004, including reaction from industry players and comments from Paris Première officials, who could not be reached for comment in Paris at press time.