Industry Update – CRTC News: The League, Quest, Paul Girouard, theScore, Must-Carry Channels

asperFight Media Inc.
The League – Fantasy Sports TV (Category B)
Approved: January 9, 2013

Fight Media Inc., which currently owns The Fight Network, is owned by Leonard Asper. Asper used to be the CEO of Canwest. Today, he stakes his future success on mixed martial arts, and fantasy leagues. At this point, The Fight Network relies most heavily on MMA, boxing, and the Live Audio Wrestling brand.

To be honest, The League isn’t a bad idea for a channel. It will likely work better on the Internet than as interactive television, yet Fight Media wants to get The League on air in North America, by summer 2013. There’s already a “fantasy pool” on The Fight Network’s website, where players choose who will win MMA fights.

The League won’t be able to devote more than ten percent of its schedule to televised sports. It’s hard to say what The League will be, when it debuts. The point is, Asper hasn’t left the Canadian television scene, though he’ll likely never get back what he lost.

HGTV Canada Inc.
Quest (Category B)
Approved: January 9, 2013

Quest, according to the CRTC, is “devoted to science and technology, nature and the environment, adventure, animal behaviour, pet care, wildlife, travel and world cultures.” This is the exact wording as seen on the CRTC’s 2005 approval of Discovery HD Theatre, which exists today as Discovery World.

Quest will be the second channel under HGTV Canada Inc. ownership, although Quest is – for all intents and purposes – a Shaw Media channel (PDF). The Shaw family, under Shaw Media and/or Corus Entertainment, controls HGTV Canada, Food Network Canada, and DIY Network Canada. Scripps Networks Interactive, Inc. is the minority partner, as Scripps Networks owns the HGTV, Food Network and DIY Network brands.

I assume Quest will become Travel Channel Canada. HGTV Canada and Food Network Canada are fairly profitable. Shaw Media introduced A+E Networks’ Lifetime, History, and H2 brands to Canada in 2012. Scripps Networks’ other brands are The Cooking Channel and Great American Country, so I’m making an educated guess on Travel Channel Canada.

If Travel Channel makes the trip to Canada, it will directly compete with Rogers Media’s OLN, and Blue Ant Media’s Travel + Escape. OLN is not specifically a travel channel, as Travel + Escape is, yet OLN’s website description sells it as a “one-stop destination for adrenaline pumping action and adventure entertainment.” Travel channels are becoming competitive in this country.

Paul Girouard, on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated
Flying Television (Category B)
World Sports Network (Category B)
Boating Television (Category B)
Approved: January 17, 2013
Related Previous Approvals: Hockey TV (Category B; October 30, 2012); Canal Hockey (Category B; October 30, 2012)

I’ve never heard of Girouard before. All five of his channels are self-explanatory. Given the nature of “on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated” (OBCI) applications, his channels might never get off the ground. I’ll admit Girouard’s channels have interesting premises.

Rogers Media Inc., on behalf of The Score Television Network Limited
Transfer of theScore to Rogers Media
Broadcasting Notice of Consultation filed: January 16, 2013
Deadline for comments: February 20, 2013

For sports fans, this is a big one. Rogers Media announced its $171 million purchase of theScore in 2012. As part of theScore’s transfer to Rogers Media, in the form of the standard ten percent benefits package, Rogers wants to launch a few initiatives – Digital Media Production Scholarships, the Sportsnet Amateur Sports Initiative (i.e., funding for the production of amateur sports programming), and the Sportsnet Winter Games.

Rogers wants the CRTC to relax the fifteen-minute headline requirement when theScore broadcasts live sports games, calling the interruptions “disruptive.” Under the new rules, theScore will only broadcast headlines at least once per hour, during live games. Documentary programming will be increased from ten to fifteen percent of the overall schedule.

Technically, theScore is owned by Rogers Media, through trustee Peter Viner. If the CRTC rejects the transfer, Viner will have to pair theScore with another buyer. Likely, theScore will be folded into Sportsnet, if the CRTC accepts the deal. theScore Inc. (d/b/a Score Digital) still has its hand in digital media, including its popular ScoreMobile app.

theScore – or whatever it evolves into – likely won’t be what Headline Sports/theScore was in its prime. What was then Score Media put theScore up for sale in 2011, for a $200 million asking price; it took a year, and a discount, before Rogers bit. That said, theScore isn’t dead; it just exists in blog and online ticker form.

Various companies
Applications for mandatory distribution on cable and satellite distribution systems, pursuant to section 9(1)(h) of the Broadcasting Act
Broadcasting Notice of Consultation filed: January 21, 2013
Deadline for comments: February 20, 2013

New services applying for “must-carry” coverage:
ACCENTS (La corporation de la télévision francophonie canadienne – ACCENTS; $0.25/month per subscriber)
AMI-tv Français (Accessible Media Inc.; $0.30/month per subscriber [French-language])
Canadian Punjabi Network (Canadian Punjabi Network Inc.; $0/month per subscriber)
Described Video Guide (Evan Kosiner, on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated; $0.02/month per subscriber [English-language])
FUSION (Stornoway Communications Limited Partnership; $0.32/month per subscriber [English-language], $0.16/month per subscriber [French-language])
Legislative Assemblies of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, The ($0/month per subscriber)
Maximum Television Canada (On Purpose TV Inc.; $0/month per subscriber)
Starlight: The Canadian Movie Channel (8094039 Canada Corp.; $0.45/month per subscriber)

Existing services applying for “must-carry” coverage:
All Points Bulletin (All Points Bulletin Incorporated; $0.06/month per subscriber [English-language])
ARTV (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, on behalf of ARTV inc.; service access rights on English-language BDUs; originally part of CBC’s 2011 renewal hearings)
Dolobox TV (Education Through Media; $0.04 to $0.08/month per subscriber)
EqualiTV (Takten Gyurmey Foundation; $0.25/month per subscriber)
Natural Resources Television Channel, The (The Natural Resources Television Channel [IDRN-TV/IDNR-TV] Inc.; $0/month per subscriber)
TV5 (TV5 Québec Canada; $0.30/month per subscriber)
Sun News Network (Sun News General Partnership; $0.18/month per subscriber [English-language], $0.09/month per subscriber [French-language])
Vision TV (ZoomerMedia Limited; $0.12/month per subscriber)

Existing services applying for renewal of “must-carry” coverage status:
AMI-audio (Accessible Media Inc.; maintains rates of $0.04/month per subscriber [English-language])
AMI-tv (Accessible Media Inc.; maintains rates of $0.20/month per subscriber [English-language], $0/month per subscriber [French-language])
APTN (increase from $0.25/month to $0.40/month per subscriber)
Avis de recherche (increase from $0.06/month to $0.08/month per subscriber)
Canal M (Vues & Voix; increase from $0.02/month to $0.04/month per subscriber)
CPAC (increase from $0.10/month to $0.12/month per subscriber)

There are a few interesting things to point out here. Starlight: The Canadian Movie Channel will be as its name describes, a channel devoted exclusively to Canadian films. Stornoway Communications, the company responsible for FUSION, runs The Pet Network, bpm:tv, and ichannel. Maximum Television Canada is a video-on-demand service.

Sun News Network’s application for “must-carry” coverage is the most talked about, as the channel originally applied for “must-carry” status in 2010. APTN claims that its fifteen-cent increase in monthly per-subscriber wholesale rates is necessary, and that if it doesn’t retain mandatory carriage, it won’t be able to stay on the air.

Vision TV claims that at least forty-seven percent of Vision TV/ZoomerMedia’s gross revenues from one year have to be reinvested in Canadian programming the next, compared to a thirty percent CPE for CTV/Bell Media and Global/Shaw Media/Astral, and twenty-three percent for Rogers Media/City. ZoomerMedia also claims that sixty-eight percent of Vision TV’s audience is at least fifty-five years of age, and that Vision TV is the only multi-faith, multicultural channel in Canada.

One of the goals of Starlight: The Canadian Movie Channel is to fund eight to twelve new Canadian films a year. The documents included for FUSION sell it as an interactive news channel with a nationwide chain of local news pieces, even though Stornoway’s supplemental “brief” (which is 83 PAGES LONG) sells FUSION with a ton of buzzwords, and hyperbole. I don’t know what FUSION is, to be honest. The sample graphics included in FUSION’s “brief” remind me of a more cluttered version of CityNews Channel’s current layout.

Montreal blogger and The Gazette copy editor Steve Faguy has a detailed rundown of the players in the mandatory carriage game. Of note, Faguy doesn’t know what FUSION is, either.