Thursday, November 25, 2004   Diginets planning month-long free preview in JanuaryThe digital channels are planning a month-long free preview this January under the marketing tagline “31 Days of Great TV.” There will be a web site and accompanying TV spots for the national campaign aimed at building awareness of the digital channels first launched in September 2001 and thereafter. All of the major broadcasters, plus independents such as Stornoway Communications, Channel Zero and Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, are involved in the effort. Details were being ironed out with distributors at press time. As far back as December 2001, broadcasters were calling for a coordinated promotional campaign for the digital channels, many of which have struggled (CCR, Nov. 9/01).Canadian films account for 4.96% of theater box office in Canada: FrullaCanadian films now account for 4.96% of theatre admissions at the box office in Canada, Canadian Heritage minister Liza Frulla said prior to a special preview of the Canada-France-U.K. coproduction Nouvelle France at the National Gallery on November 17. The figure is close to the government’s objective of 5% and up from 2.1% prior to the launch of the Canada Feature Film Fund (CCR, Oct. 13/00). The increase is due largely to the success of French-Canadian films in the Quebec market, which Telefilm Canada chair Charles Belanger noted at the preview have now captured 21.1% of the market share in Quebec in 2003. Nouvelle France is being distributed by Cristal Films.CTV greenlights movie The Man Who Lost HimselfCTV Inc. announced November 19 that it would proceed with the TV movie, The Man Who Lost Himself: The Terry Evanshen Story, a tale of the former Canadian Football League star and Hall of Famer who was involved in a car accident that erased his memory. It begins shooting this spring and will be produced by Toronto-based Sarrazin Couture Entertainment in association with CTV and the U.S. Lifetime Network. Casting is currently underway. The TV movie will be part of CTV’s Heroes, Champions and Villains series.Global Television commits to 100% closed captioning of its programmingThe Global Television Network announced November 15 that it will close caption all of its programming effective Jan. 1, 2005. The agreement was reached following a dispute between Global and deaf Canadians who turned to the Canadian Human Rights Commission. The settlement was reached through mediation.Bell Globemedia welcomes Competition Bureau’s ruling on CBC Olympics complaintBell Globemedia welcomed a November 19 decision by the Competition Bureau that rejected a complaint by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. against a potential joint bid by Bell Globemedia and Rogers Media for broadcast rights to the 2010 and 2012 Olympic Games. “Of course, we are delighted that the Competition Bureau saw through CBC’s baseless complaint,” said Paul Sparkes, senior VP of corporate and public affairs for Bell Globemedia. “But we’re deeply disappointed that this complaint by the CBC was ever launched in the first place and it demonstrates how far the CBC will go to stifle competition at the taxpayers’ expense.” In past Olympics, Bell Globemedia’s TSN has collaborated with the CBC in bringing Olympic coverage to Canadians. Ironically, while appearing before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage on November 15, CBC president and CEO Robert Rabinovitch stated that only the CBC was prepared to bid on the Olympics because the private networks could not afford to break away from U.S. network programming during the sweeps period to cover the Olympics. Rabinovitch also told the committee that the CBC would be less likely to run TV programming covering Canada’s Olympic hopefuls between Olympics if the International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded the rights elsewhere.BBM expands competitive TV tracking serviceBBM Canada this month announced an expansion of its competitive TV tracking system with the addition of the Montreal Francophone market to the currently monitored markets of Toronto and Vancouver. Both conventional and specialty TV stations will be digitally monitored and the commercial data will be linked to its Portable People Meter (PPM) ratings (CCR, July 30/04). Data will be available to clients on a weekly basis, seven business days after the end of the broadcast week, BBM Canada stated in a media release.Canada supports convention on cultural contents and artistic expressionCanadian Heritage is supporting the Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expression, which it believes will act as a benchmark in cultural affairs at the international level and will encourage organizations to respect the principles of cultural diversity. “If the convention is to assume its rightful role within the international system, it will require effective and appropriate follow-up bodies, as well as timely and accessible procedures to resolve relevant disputes between parties in certain situations,” state comments filed by Canada to UNESCO on the preliminary draft of the convention. The Canadian government also reiterated the importance of recognizing in the convention the dual nature of cultural goods and services as having both an economic and social value, and reaffirmed the right of governments to adopt cultural policies. The next intergovernmental meeting of experts will be held in February 2005 to continue discussions on the convention.Vidéotron adds 10 timeshifting channelsVidéotron ltée last month introduced two new timeshifting packages, which are on free preview to all its illico digital TV customers until November 30. The first package contains six Canadian channels, five from Western Canada (stations affiliated with TVA on channel 401, Radio-Canada on 400, CBC on 404 and CTV on 403) and one from Newfoundland (NTV 405). The other package includes four U.S. network affiliates from Seattle (ABC on 420, NBC on 421, CBS on 422, and FOX on 423).CAB convention gets underway on Sunday, November 28The annual convention of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) begins Sunday, November 28 at the Westin Hotel in Ottawa. Keynote speakers include Canadian Heritage minister Liza Frulla and CRTC chair Charles Dalfen. Pre-conference sessions on Sunday include a look at how new technologies, mounting copyright tariffs and pressure on advertising markets are affecting the radio business, and a cultural diversity best practices seminar. Conference sessions include “Consensus and Conflict: The New Legislative Agenda,” which will allow MPs from all parties to address what they see as the most important items on the new legislative agenda, “The Programmer/Distributor Partnership,” which will look at ways to improve the commercial practices between Canadian programmers and distributors; and “The Future of Local Programming,” which takes a hard look at the economics of local programming. Other sessions are “Tracking the Trends: New Developments in Canadian Advertising,” “Music: Is Radio Paying Too Much?”, “(Un)conditional Access? Foreign Programming Services in Canada,” “Competition and Broadcasting: Whose Rules Apply?” and “Sharp Turns Ahead: Keeping Conventional Television on Track.” For the first time, the convention will be presented in high-definition (HD) in conjunction with Dome Productions and Christie Digital Systems Inc. A 20-foot by 12-foot rear projection screen will show the convention proceedings in full HD.INTERNATIONALCraig Wireless shuts down Hawaiian TV distribution businessCraig Wireless Honolulu Inc. has closed its TV distribution business in Hawaii. The U.S. operations were shuttered October 29, and a notice to subscribers states that the wireless cableco is working with Time Warner Oceanic Cable, the predominant TV distributor in the area with 375,000 customers, to ensure that there is no interruption in TV viewing. “Should Oceanic’s cable service not be an option to you, and you are interested in receiving Dish Network, please contact our Call Center for additional information,” states the notice. Craig Wireless Honolulu Inc. served about 8,300 residential and commercial customers on Oahu. Craig Wireless instituted repeated layoffs since acquiring the company from Americast in December 2001. Craig Wireless president Boyd Craig had not returned phone calls at press time.