CCR Update October 15, 2004  CCTA calls for a more liberalized approach to foreign third-language channels in CanadaThe Canadian Cable Telecommunications Association (CCTA) on October 13 called for the CRTC to authorize more non-Canadian third-language channels for distribution in Canada. The cable organization said the addition of more third-language channels will promote diversity. The CCTA asked the CRTC to adopt a new approach for assessing the impact of new services on the system, rather than the current one channel per genre. The cable association is recommending that the CRTC’s competitiveness test be used instead. The CCTA’s comments were filed to the CRTC as part of its review of the approach to assessing non-Canadian third-language services for carriage in digital in Canada. Comments were due October 13. A three-member panel appointed by Canadian Heritage is also recommending a new approach to approving foreign third-language channels for carriage in Canada (CCR, Oct. 8/04). Ethnic Channels Group Ltd. plans to launch 30 foreign-language channelsEthnic Channels Group Ltd. launched four foreign-language TV channels on Rogers Digital in Ontario earlier this summer, but announced plans this month to deliver a total of more than 30 TV and radio channels covering 25 different languages. Ethic Channels Group’s director of marketing Irina Alesina-Shamis says that the four existing foreign-language channels (RTVi, Inter+Channel, Saigon Broadcasting Television Network (SBTN), and ECG Filipino) will soon be on Bell ExpressVu. She notes that two more foreign-language channels will be launched in November. Ethnic Channels Group has received Category 2 digital specialty TV licences from the CRTC for many of these foreign-language channels. CTV’s Corner Gas continues high ratingsThe second show of the second season of CTV’s comedy series Corner Gas drew 1.4 million viewers, making it the 15th consecutive time a first-run episode of the series has scored more than a one-million audience figure. Degrassi: The Next Generation, which followed Corner Gas, had 930,000 viewers tuning in. Together, the combination of Corner Gas and Degrassi, with an average audience of 1.17 million viewers, won the 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. timeslot over Making the Cut (CBC, 566,000, 2+) and back-to-back episodes of Father of the Pride (Global, 384,000, 2+). All audience data is from BBM. Vidéotron adds two new high-definition (HD) channels to its lineupVidéotron added two high-definition channels, TSN HD and Discovery HD, to its lineup in Montreal, Hull, Chicoutimi and Rivière-du-Loup QC on October 12. The two channels are on free preview until Jan. 6, 2005 to illico subscribers with a HD digital set-top box and HD TV set. OMNI.1, ONMI.2 go high-definition (HD) on cableRogers-owned ethnic channels OMNI.1 and OMNI.2 began broadcasting some content in high-definition (HD) on Rogers Television on October 15. The HD versions of the services are found on the HD tier at channels 275 and 276. Telefilm, SODEC receive four proposals for film event in MontrealTelefilm Canada and the Société de développement des enterprises culturelles (SODEC) announced October 8 that they had received four proposals from parties interested in running a film event in Montreal. The Festival du Nouveau Cinéma is one of the parties that has submitted a bid. Serge Losique, the founder and president of the Montreal World Film Festival, has indicated that he will not be participating in the process. The call for bids for government support of an inclusive film event in Montreal followed the release earlier this summer of a Secor report, which criticized the Montreal World Film Festival and praised the film fetes held in Toronto, Halifax and Vancouver (CCR, Sept. 10/04). WIFT-T announces winners of 2004 Crystal AwardWomen in Film and Television - Toronto (WIFT-T) announced October 12 that Maria Topalovich, president and CEO of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, is the recipient of its Outstanding Achievement Crystal Award. Debbie Travis, executive producer and host, won the Creative Excellence Award, and Dianne Schwalm, senior VP of advertising and publicity at Warner Bros. Canada, was presented with the Phyllis Switzer Mentorship Award. The awards will be presented at a luncheon in Toronto on November 17. Espial ranks 26th in Deloitte & Touche’s Canadian Tech Fast 50Canadian set-top box software and interactive TV applications provider, Espial, was ranked 26th in Deloitte & Touche’s "Canadian Technology Fast 50" ranking. The rankings are based on the percentage of growth in fiscal year revenues from 1999 to 2003. Espial president Jaison Dolvane credits Espial’s performance in the digital TV and mobile handset markets with the company’s 792% revenue growth from 1999-2003. To qualify for Technology Fast 50, companies must have had operating revenues of at least $75,000 in 1998 and $1 million in 2002. Toshiba seals licensing agreement with Tri-Vision, court proceedings endedToshiba of Canada has signed a non-exclusive V-chip licence with Tri-Vision International for all V-chip equipped TV receivers sold in Canada. The agreement is valid until the expiration of the patent in the year 2016. Terms of the agreement are confidential. The licensing agreement ends action that was pending in the Federal Court of Canada, in which Tri-Vision sought relief from the courts from Toshiba for infringement of its patent. Making the Cut goes interactive on Bell ExpressVuThe Canadian Broadcasting Corp.’s reality TV series Making the Cut went interactive on Bell ExpressVu earlier this month. For 50 cents, Bell ExpressVu subscribers can use their remotes to answer up to four trivia questions during each episode of the show. More than 800,000 ExpressVu customers with interactive TV-ready receivers can view on-demand information such as player profiles and coaches’ notes. Making the Cut is about Canadians attempting to make it as professional hockey players. Contestants are competing for one of six invitations to a Canadian NHL team training camp. Digital cable TV subs to outnumber satellite by end of 2005: The Convergence Consulting Group reportThe number of digital cable TV subscribers in Canada will outnumber the customer base of all-digital satellite TV by the end of 2005, predicts The Convergence Consulting Group Ltd. The October 2004 edition of the report, The Battle for the North American Couch Potato: Bundling, Internet, TV, Telephone, notes that Canadian cablecos also continue to maintain their lead in residential broadband subscribers, and 2004 is expected to see cablecos and DSL each add about the same amount of new subscribers. But in 2005 and 2006, Convergence Consulting expects cable will add slightly more residential broadband subscribers than DSL. The report notes that Canada’s four largest cablecos will enter the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) market in 2005, which will intensify their bundled offerings. Convergence Consulting expects cablecos to gain telephone customers rapidly due to expected competitive pricing on service/features and their already strong customer double play (TV and Internet). INTERNATIONAL Interactive program guides to be killer application for enhanced TV: In-Stat/MDRThe interactive program guides (IPGs) market value to reach US$1 billion by 2008, according to high-tech research firm In-Stat/MDR. In-Stat/MDR reports that IPGs will be the "killer application" for enhanced interactive TV services and will help end-users find TV programs, movies or sporting events from among listings of thousands of available options. As more digital TV networks become available in a greater number of geographic regions, the opportunities for IPGs will expand around the world," concludes the research firm in the report, Interactive Program Guides (IPGs) - The Killer App for Enhanced TV.