CRTC reviews deluge of new specialty TV apps

Rogers Media gets the green light on nine new channel applications, but George Burger's Crush channel application is rejected.

Horror, health, luxury and romance are among programming options Canadian cable viewers may soon be able to choose from thanks to several new Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) decisions handed down in February.

Among the channels to receive the green light are nine new Category 2 specialty offerings from Rogers.

The channels include Epic TV and Gold, two channels devoted to classic television programming; Puzzle, a channel for fans of horror, thriller, suspense and sci-fi flicks; Luxury Living, a lifestyle channel that will provide viewers with a view of ‘the finer things in life’; a lifestyle net called Contessa aimed at women between ages 25 and 54; The Competition Channel, which will consist entirely of reality TV series, competitions and makeover shows; the amorously themed Ampersand, a channel focused on romance and relationship-related programming; an action/adventure channel called Highwire; and the law-and-order-focused net GGBG.

Other specialty nets to get the green light last month include Airborne Mobile Inc.’s interactive TxT-TV, a channel that aims to inspire viewer participation on a range of topics such as gaming through a moderated platform; and Remstar subsidiary Canada Inc.’s health channel Pure TV.

On Monday, the CRTC approved the pay-per-view channel FreeHD Canada, which will air sports, concerts, feature films and some 3D programming and a Category 2 licence for Asian Television Network International Limited, a 100% Hindi-language specialty network that will air comedy series and feature films.

The CRTC did not, however, approve George Burger’s proposed Crush channel, ruling the film channel for an 18-to-34 male demo was too ‘broad’ in mandate to distinguish itself from existing Canadian pay TV channels.

Burger, a former Alliance Communications and Fight Network topper, already faced opposition from Astral Media and Corus Entertainment in proposing a Category 2 digital channel to feature movies aimed at young men.

In their intervention, Astral and Corus argued Crush was ‘too broad and not precise enough to ensure that the service will not be in direct competition with the existing pay movie services or with other existing analogue or Category 1 services,’ the CRTC recounted in its ruling Monday.

In reply, Burger argued the 18-to-34 male demo had ‘sufficiently distinctive criterion’ and would not directly compete with Astral’s The Movie Network or Corus’s Movie Central services.

The regulator sided with Astral and Corus and the principal of genre exclusivity by ruling it could not approve the proposed Crush service ‘as proposed.’

Burger’s proposed Crush channel looks to have failed where Spike TV succeeded in 2005 when the CRTC said the US specialty channel aimed at young American men did not compete with existing Canadian services, including then Canwest Global Communications Corp.’s Men TV channel.

The CRTC concluded Spike TV was a general service aimed at a broad male audience, while Men TV focused on male lifestyle issues, reducing the potential for unfair competition.

Crush, on the other hand, had no such luck as Burger and his movie model failed to distance itself from Astral’s and Corus’s movie channels.