Some interesting developments at the CRTC concerning TV specialty channels:
The CRTC held a hearing yesterday on applications for new specialty channels, though no questions were asked and the meeting lasted 10 minutes. The following are being considered:
- CBC SportsPlus, an “amateur sports” network. This one has proved controversial since rumours first started about it in January, since amateur sports would comprise only 25% of programming. The rest would seem to be for overflow from Olympic and other sports coverage where CBC television and the Bold channel would be insufficient. CTV and Rogers have already complained about competition with their sports networks, while the Canadian Olympic Committee argues its 100% amateur sports channel proposal should be approved instead. (The Globe argues both channels should be approved) (UPDATE: The Tea Makers has some analysis of this proposed channel)
- AfroGlobal Television, a general interest network about Africa and African culture
- Diversion HD, an HD movie network for the post-PPV sloppy seconds
- Diversion SD, the same thing in standard definition
- Canada HD Network, a general interest HD channel which seems to want to compete with U.S. based HDNet (to the point where it actually refused to have 15% limitations on music, movies and other categories that would compete with existing services). Its suggested programming grid includes an unusually large amount of Fresh Prince of Bel Air and McMillan & Wife reruns, especially for an HD channel
- EqualiTV, a disability issues network which sounds a lot like the Accessible Channel
- YTV OneWorld, a youth network with emphasis on foreign programming (let’s hope “foreign” doesn’t mean “American”). The channel had already been approved in 2000, but never made it off the ground.
- YTV POW!, a comic book/action youth network with foreign programming, which was also initially approved in 2000
- Sportsnet 2, a soccer/cricket/rugby sports channel that has been approved in principle but had not met certain legal requirements for a license
Expect Diversion and Canada HD to get denied unless they become more specific about their programming, and EqualiTV to explain how it differs from the Accessible Chanel.
Meanwhile, CTV has applied to the CRTC for HD versions of the following cable channels:
- RIS Info Sports (RDS’s sister station)
- The Discovery Channel*
- CTV Newsnet
- Business News Network
- MTV Canada
- The Comedy Network
- Outdoor Life Network
*The Discovery Channel already has an HD version, which was approved on a temporary basis before the CRTC had a proper framework for such channels. This application is to have an HD channel under the new framework, which would require 95% of all programming to be the same between the SD and HD versions of the same channel (and the remaining 5% to be all-HD on the HD network).
CTV also wants to expand the programming of two of its channels, ESPN Classic Canada and Book Television, to include “general entertainment and human interest”. They cite as examples profiles of Hall of Fame athletes and Giller Prize awards coverage, respectively. The paranoid part of me thinks the likelihood of anyone complaining of these types of shows is extremely small, and that adding this category may be more about other kinds of shows they’d like to air that have less to do with the channels’ core mission.