The big news this month is that Rogers has been given permission to launch its own 24-hour all-news channel in the Toronto area called CityNews.
Now, you might think, doesn't City already have a 24-hour all-news channel for the Toronto area?
No, silly. CP24, the existing all-Toronto, all-news station, was owned by CHUM, which also owned City. But CHUM was acquired by CTV, which was forced to dump City as a result to satisfy the CRTC. For some reason known only to the CRTC, that didn't include CP24, even though it was heavily linked to CityTV. Rogers ended up buying City, and is now the one behind this new network.
Even under CTV, CP24 is very much a City network. It even airs City News three times daily. Now, not only does CTV have to figure out how CP24 and CTV Newsnet are going to coexist, it has to deal with this new channel from Rogers which is no doubt going to take all the City content for itself.
Oh, and how does the CRTC justify having two Toronto all-news stations like this? Well, they split hairs like I've never seen before (emphasis mine):
CITY News (Toronto) would provide a niche news service targeted to Greater Toronto. In contrast, CP24’s mandate is and has always been to serve the region of Southern Ontario.
Yes, that's right. CITY is for Toronto, while CP24 is for Southern Ontario. Therefore they don't compete directly with each other. Yeah.
I might have understood if the CRTC pointed to its recent decision to allow more competition for news and spoirts programming. Instead, it came up with the flimsiest excuse in the book to pretend like the obvious isn't true.
The application was opposed by CTV (for obvious reasons) and by The Weather Network, because of City's unhealthy obsession with providing information on the weather.
Elsewhere in the news/blogosphere:
CTV wants HD loophole
CTV is applying for special permission from the CRTC to distribute HD versions of its local stations (including CFCF Montreal) to cable and satellite networks, even though those stations do not have digital broadcast licenses (and the CRTC normally requires that before distributing HD feeds). CTV offers excuses for not getting those licenses, and says that they should be granted this loophole to keep Canadians from seeking the same programming on U.S. networks. Deadline for comments is Jan. 9.
TSN2 is OK
Following complaints about the launch of TSN2 by the CBC and The Score, the CRTC has concluded that, though TSN is essentially exploiting a loophole to create a new channel, it has every right to do so. TSN2 takes advantage of time shifting and a special allowance to replace up to 10% of its programming on split feeds (presumably to get around regional blackouts for live sporting events) in order to create a second channel which shows 90% identical programming (though time-shifted three hours from TSN) and 10% different live sporting events from TSN.
Two new French-language networks
The CRTC approved Category 2 digital licenses for two new French-language networks:
- Chaîne de Divertissement Clovys Entertainment Channel, which I assume will shorten its name at some point, will be a music channel devoted to "urban, world and Latin music and black culture."
- Le Réseau des combats is the French-language version of the Fight Network, which carries boxing, wrestling, martial arts and similar programming
Category 2 networks, which most new specialty channels are approved as, has no protection from direct competition (though it can't directly compete with existing analog channels). They also have no guaranteed carriage rights, which means they have to negotiate with cable and satellite providers for a spot on their grids (and then get subscribers to add them).
The following networks have received approval to setup high-definition versions of themselves: