Norma Bolen of Alliance Atlantis Broadcasting Inc., Kevin DeWalt of Minds Eye Entertainment, Ted East of the Canadian Association of Film Distributors and Exporters, and Paul Gratton of CHUM Television are the new board members of the Canadian Television Fund. Outgoing members are Paul Gross, Julia Keatley, Deepa Mehta, Peter Moss, and Bill Mustos. The CTF’s five independent board members are CTF chair Douglas Barrett, Canadian Cable Telecommunications Association president Michael Hennessy (representing the CCTA), the University of Montreal’s André Caron (independent member nominated by Canadian Heritage), Canadian Heritage’s Susan Peterson (representing Canadian Heritage) and a yet-to-be-named member.
Cable association changes name, embraces telecommunications
The Canadian Cable Television Association (CCTA) has changed its name to the Canadian Cable Telecommunications Association to better reflect the digital offerings its members offer to consumers. The new name underlines the fact that in a digital/IP-based environment, consumers will access broadband networks to obtain a range of on-demand services that encompasses entertainment, information and communications. "Our name change more accurately reflects the direction of our industry," says CCTA president Michael Hennessy. "I think the industry has changed a whole lot because of high-speed and there are all kinds of new applications that draw on the Internet from games to videos to music services. The name ‘cable’ still really connotates television, and we’re moving into the telephone side of things so we’re moving into an environment where in the future we’ll be making more of our revenues from telecom as broadly defined than we will from television."
A CRTC decision on September 16 to allow entry of U.S. cable news network MSNBC and the U.S.-based financial channel Bloomberg Television into Canada on a digital basis is a sign that the commission is becoming more flexible in the news area, according to the president of the Canadian Cable Telecommunications Association (CCTA). The regulator greenlighted carriage of the two U.S. services despite that fact that both MSNBC and Bloomberg Television had formed partnerships with Canadian broadcasters to launch Canadianized versions of the channels.
Canadian satellite TV subscribers are generally more satisfied with their television service than cable subscribers including digital cable customers, according to results from the 2004 wave of Decima Research Inc.’s syndicated consumer research study on digital TV service. But satisfaction ratings were generally lower in Decima’s 2004 survey compared to results from the 2003 survey, something broadcast distributors will want to monitor.
Defying naysayers who predicted that new independent broadcasters wouldn’t be able to withstand the digital competition of established players, Stornoway Communications Inc. is set to launch its third channel, which will be devoted to pets. The Pets Network, licensed in November 2000 as a Category 2, will be carried on Rogers systems, and possibly Cogeco, come November.
The CRTC is a vital cog in the broadcasting system and must have jurisdiction over it, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) hopes to tell the Federal Court of Appeal in the Genex Communications Inc. case. The CAB filed this month for leave to intervene in the case, in which Genex argues that the CRTC doesn’t have the jurisdiction to revoke its radio licence for CHOI-FM (CCR Update, Sept. 1/04). The CAB argues to the contrary, but isn’t taking a stand on the Genex situation itself.
Fears over digital piracy and the Americanization of subscription radio in Canada have emerged as the two greatest concerns by interveners in the CRTC’s ongoing licensing procedure. The two proposed satellite subscription services – one by a partnership of Sirius Satellite Radio Inc., Standard Radio Inc. and the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. for Canadian Satellite Service (CSS), and the other by XM Satellite Radio and Canadian entrepreneur John Bitove for Canadian Satellite Radio (CSR) – are singled out for their lack of Canadian content. On the other hand, CHUM Subscription Radio Canada (CSRC), a proposed terrestrial-based subscription radio service by CHUM Ltd., and new partner Astral Media, is questioned for its ability to ensure protection of the digital music it will deliver (CCR, July 30/04).