CRTC grants Current TV licence to operate

Al Gore's current affairs network is partnering with the CBC with a Canadian version of the UGC news service for youth.

Al Gore’s broadcast and online news network, Current TV, was granted an operation licence by the CRTC this week.

The announcement, made at the NextMedia conference in Alberta this week, gives the green light to a youth-targeted professional- and user-generated news and current affairs channel, that has users ranking the online submissions to help get them on the air.

A partnership between the two parties announced last November, Current TV in Canada will be a joint venture between Al Gore’s channel and the Ceeb: The application to grant Current TV a national English language Category 2 specialty service broadcasting license was filed by Current Media Canada ULC, owned by the CBC (80%), and non-Canadian corp, Current Media Canada LLC (20%).

‘It’s going to be the only 24/7 cable cross-platform satellite television network and internet site produced and programmed in collaboration with its audience, so it’s an attempt for us to broaden the input that we get from our audiences,’ Jeff Keay CBC’s head of media relations, English services, tells MiC.

As of yet, little information has been released on the proposed new broadcast service, though the application states it will cover ‘a wide range of topics relevant to young adults’ and will be devoted to short-form UGC (ranging from five seconds to 30 minutes).

As part of the conditions of licence, no more than 15% of programming for a broadcast month can be devoted to music video programs, sitcoms and dramatic series. Other conditional terms include a commitment for 35% of the user-submitted content to be Canadian.

‘We’re going to be able to enhance our programming and to connect with more audiences in new ways,’ Keay tells MiC. ‘Current Canada is going to hopefully connect with young adults on their turf and from their perspective and offer them a voice in the programming; it’s going to offer audiences an opportunity to participate in shaping the programming stream, hopefully in a way that’s compelling and authentic and relevant – and we’re hoping that’s going to be a unique experience for Canadians.’

As to any plans for Current content integration on other CBC platforms, ‘I think it’s fair to say yes,’ says Keay, ‘although it’s too soon to say how. We’re going to be looking at the main net with the digital channels Bold and Documentary, as well as – we’re going to see how we can make them all work together.’

In order to proceed with the broadcast launch – expected late this year, early next year, according to Keay – approval from the Treasury Board is pending with deliberations expected to resume this fall.

More information about the CRTC decision can be viewed here.