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Corus to discontinue Movie Central, Encore Avenue, HBO Canada in Western Canada

From a media release:

Corus Entertainment Makes Strategic Decision to Deepen Focus on Core National Media Brands and Exit Regional Pay TV Business

Corus Entertainment Inc. announced today that, as part of its plan to strategically invest in and further optimize its core national media brands for future growth, it intends to discontinue its Pay TV business in Western Canada, which includes Movie Central, Encore Avenue and HBO Canada.

“After an extensive strategic review of our business, we made the decision to strengthen our focus on one of our biggest growth opportunities, our powerful national media brands targeted to kids, women and families,” said Doug Murphy, President and Chief Executive Officer, Corus Entertainment. “Therefore, we have decided to exit our regional Pay TV business concurrent with Bell Media’s plans to expand their premium offering nationally. We have always believed that the best way to serve Pay TV subscribers is through a national operator and brand.”

To ensure continuity for subscribers, Corus will continue to operate Movie Central, Encore Avenue and HBO Canada until Bell Media’s national Pay TV service is available in Western Canada. Added Doug Murphy, “We value our long and successful partnership with Bell and wish them every success as they extend their Pay TV offering to serve all Canadians.”

Corus will receive cash consideration of $211 million Cdn from Bell Media to assist in their national expansion, valued at an adjusted F2015 EBITDA1 multiple for Pay TV of 6.7x. The cash will be used to invest in the advancement of Corus’ strategic priorities and retire debt.

1 Segment profit (EBITDA) does not have a standardized meaning prescribed by IFRS. The Company reports on segment profit because it is a key measure used to evaluate performance. For definitions and explanations, see discussion under the Key Performance Indicators section of the 2015 Report to Shareholders. Corus Entertainment Inc. reports in Canadian dollars.

Bell Media and HBO to embark on new original co-production partnership

From a media release:

Bell Media, Canada’s leading broadcaster, and HBO, the world’s most successful pay TV service, announced today an unprecedented agreement in which Bell Media will become the exclusive Canadian home of all HBO programming on all subscription platforms into the next decade.

Under the comprehensive, long-term agreement, the first of its kind for HBO in Canada, Bell Media will have the ability to deliver current-season, past-season, and library HBO programming exclusively on its linear, on-demand, and over-the-top (OTT) platforms in English and French. The agreement also marks the first time HBO has granted exclusive subscription video on demand (SVOD) rights for first-run programming throughout Canada. As a result, Bell Media will have the flexibility to provide current HBO content such as GAME OF THRONES, GIRLS, and VEEP over-the-top in Canada on its platforms. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

BCE announced today that Bell Media will expand The Movie Network into a national pay TV service and become the sole operator of HBO Canada. As a result, all HBO content will be delivered nationwide by one company for the first time ever in Canada. French-language HBO programming will continue to be seen on Bell Media’s Super Écran pay service.

Bell Media and HBO also announced today a new original production development program, with the goal of co-producing premium, made-in-Canada content for the world stage.

Bell Media and HBO will further bolster their new partnership with a landmark programming and production arrangement. The two companies will co-develop original, Canadian drama, comedy, and factual productions for their platforms and for distribution around the world. Several projects have already been selected for development from production companies Inverted Pictures/Artists Studio, Rhombus Media, and Force Four Entertainment. Additionally, new HBO Comedy specials featuring established and emerging Canadian comedians will also be considered.

Earlier this year, Bell Media announced its premium TV streaming service CraveTV would become available to all Canadians with an Internet subscription in January, 2016. In September, 2014, Bell Media announced it had exclusively acquired the national multi-platform rights for the entire off-air library of HBO’s iconic programming catalogue, which is now featured on CraveTV.

Hockey legends and dance icons voice animated CBC special The Curse of Clara: A Holiday Tale

From a media release:

Smiley Guy Studios is decking the halls with THE CURSE OF CLARA: A HOLIDAY TALE, a new original animated special airing on CBC-TV as part of its holiday programming lineup. A young dancer’s dreams come true when ballet, hockey and the holidays converge. Inspired by the autobiographical short story “The Curse of Clara or My Big Fat Disappointment” by Vickie Fagan, the 30-minute special is set against the backdrop of The National Ballet of Canada’s The Nutcracker and the 1972 Summit Series, a Canada-USSR showdown that shaped hockey history. THE CURSE OF CLARA: A HOLIDAY TALE stars Hockey Hall of Fame inductees Phil Esposito and Bob Cole (Hockey Night in Canada) and National Ballet of Canada Prima Ballerina Karen Kain as themselves with Sheila McCarthy (Little Mosque on the Prairie, Emily of New Moon) as the narrator, Sara Botsford (E.N.G., Legal Eagles, Still of the Night) as the ballet mistress and Saara Chaudry (Max and Shred, Degrassi) in the roles of Vickie and Clara. THE CURSE OF CLARA: A HOLIDAY TALE premieres December 14 at 7 p.m. ET/PT (7:30 p.m. NT) and rebroadcasts December 25 at 5:30 p.m. ET/PT (6 p.m. NT) on CBC-TV.

In this delightfully heartwarming holiday tale, Vickie, a small-town girl, is accepted into the prestigious National Ballet School in Toronto, and lands the coveted role of Clara in the Company’s annual production of The Nutcracker. Things look like they couldn’t get any better. And they can’t, because that’s when Vickie finds out about the mysterious “Curse of Clara”. According to local legend, the young girls that star in the production almost never go on to become professional ballet dancers. Thankfully, she has a good friend, the 1972 Summit Series, and imaginary mentor Phil Esposito to keep her “on pointe”.

THE CURSE OF CLARA: A HOLIDAY TALE is produced by Smiley Guy Studios in association with CBC, and with the participation of the Canada Media Fund. Executive Producer is Jonas Diamond (Odd Job Jack, Guidestones). Producers are Veronica Tennant (Vida Y Danza Cuba – Life & Dance, Celia Franca: Tour de Force), Vickie Fagan (Toronto Biographies, Adventures in Breathing), Jeremy Diamond (Pillars of Freedom, Odd Job Jack) and Denny Silverthorne (Warren United, Wussywat). THE CURSE OF CLARA: A HOLIDAY TALE is written by Jeremy Diamond and Vickie Fagan and directed by M.R. Horhager (Chirp, I Hate You Red Light) and Mike Valiquette (Captain Canuck, Chirp).

Link: TSN’s Off the Record cancelled amid Bell job cuts

From James Bradshaw of The Globe and Mail:

TSN’s Off the Record cancelled amid Bell job cuts
As Bell Media continues a sweeping shakeup, shedding hundreds of jobs, one of the country’s longest-running sports programs is going off the air.

Off the Record, a popular daily half-hour talk show, will soon end its run on TSN after 18 years. Officially, OTR is “evolving,” with host Michael Landsberg staying on to produce shorter segments to be aired during the network’s nightly highlights show SportsCentre and online starting in the new year. Continue reading.