Labatt unit targets TV

Brewing and entertainment giant John Labatt wants to launch a cable tv specialty service in Canada similar to The Discovery Channel in the u.s.John Labatt, through its JLL Broadcast Group, has reached an agreement with Discovery Communications in Bethesda, Md. to...

Brewing and entertainment giant John Labatt wants to launch a cable tv specialty service in Canada similar to The Discovery Channel in the u.s.

John Labatt, through its JLL Broadcast Group, has reached an agreement with Discovery Communications in Bethesda, Md. to apply to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission for a new Canadian specialty tv service.

Paul Brown, vice-president of business affairs at Toronto-based jll, which controls cable sports service tsn and its French counterpart, rds, says filing for the licence depends on whether the crtc decides new tv services are desirable after its structural policy hearings next year.

If the crtc decides they are, Brown says there should be a filing by the summer.

The content of the proposed new service would be quite similar to The Discovery Channel’s non-fiction programs on natural history, science and technology, the environment, and so on.

Brown says the business plan for the proposed service calls for 18-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week satellite-delivered programming.

He says cable operators have shown strong interest in the proposed new service in preliminary discussions, adding it will carry advertising if the crtc grants a licence.

Jim Boyle, a spokesman for The Discovery Channel, says examples of programs shown on that service are Frontiers of Flight, about civil and military aviation, Beyond 2000, a futuristic examination of science and technology in the third millenium, and The Natural World, which recently looked at wild horses in the u.s.

Programming

Boyle says if a licence application is allowed and approved, The Discovery Channel will supply up to 400 hours of programming a year for the Canadian channel.

More than that runs afoul of Canadian content rules, he says.

A full 400 hours of programs could mean an average 7.6 hours of Discovery Channel programming a week.

The Discovery Channel also owns The Learning Channel, already available on some cable systems in Canada.

Boyle says The Discovery Channel is privately owned.