Cookie Jar Entertainment of Toronto has filed CRTC licensing applications for a proposed English-language educational interactive TV channel and a French counterpart.   "There is no channel that’s doing what we’re proposing," says Michael Hirsh, CEO of the Cookie Jar Group, which includes Cookie Jar Entertainment Inc. and Cookie Jar Education Inc., and holds a 20% stake in the Teletoon animation channel. Cookie Jar’s proposed digital cable offering, dubbed @cademy TV, will focus on three main subjects of study: language arts, mathematics, and science. "We’re proposing to do core curriculum," Hirsh says. "It’s not soft social educational content like you might see on TVOntario or SCN or Access Alberta – it’s...what’s being taught in the classroom." The company is seeking a Category 2 digital specialty TV licence for the service, which means that if the licence is approved distributors would not be required to carry it. @cademy TV will use the remote control hardware that comes with digital cable set-top boxes to allow users to navigate interactive content on their televisions and select subject-specific programming from an on-screen menu. As well, "they’ll...get quizzes and drills...and they’ll also be able to get rewards in the form of digital games that they can play using their controls," Hirsh says. The custom software at the core of @cademy TV will be developed by third parties. While the offering is intended to complement classroom-based education offered by provincial ministries of education, Cookie Jar won’t seek any special status or certification from those ministries, Hirsh says. "This will be an alternative way to help some kids learn lessons that learning through traditional means, which is what supplemental education primarily does," he says. Cookie Jar’s educational division is made up of two firms catering specifically to school-aged learners, HighReach Learning and the Carson-Dellosa Publishing Company Inc. @cademy TV will mostly leverage the latter. Hirsh feels that technology-based interactive learning is key in keeping children excited about learning. "Some children have a terrific access in their homes to television and computers – in fact, 35% of kids under five are on the ‘Net," he observes. "We think that one of the reasons some schools are having difficulty in reaching those kids...is they’re using traditional means of teaching, when some of those kids really can be better reached through this kind of mechanism where it’s closer to what they would see on the ‘Net or...watching television." However, he adds, it’s an approach that won’t work for all: "I think there are some kids who learn better one way and other kids who learn better in other ways – really, this just provides an alternative." Cookie Jar’s application states that two-thirds of @cademy TV’s programming will be targeted at children from pre-kindergarten to grade 6 as well as their teachers, while the remainder of the programming will be aimed at the parents of those kids. "Overall, programming on the service will focus on curriculum specified strands and/or achievement levels paying special attention to the roles and responsibilities of teachers/educators, parents and caregivers, in addition to the target audience of children," the application reads. The CRTC will be holding a public hearing in January to solicit input on Cookie Jar’s application, as well as those of other Category 2 hopefuls (Public Hearing CRTC 2005-10). "We’re definitely getting a very good response from the BDUs," Hirsh says, adding that he has agreed to leave it up to distributors whether or not a premium is charged for the channel.