CBC hooks up with death star

When an Ariane 4 rocket lifts off from Kourou, French Guiana next summer it will carry with it Canada's presence in the death star business.The cbc and Montreal's Power Broadcasting have signed an agreement with DirecTV in Los Angeles to provide...

When an Ariane 4 rocket lifts off from Kourou, French Guiana next summer it will carry with it Canada’s presence in the death star business.

The cbc and Montreal’s Power Broadcasting have signed an agreement with DirecTV in Los Angeles to provide the direct satellite broadcast system with an ‘internationalized’ version of CBC Newsworld and a new entertainment service with the working title Northstar.

According to CBC President and Chief Executive Officer Gerard Veilleux, the deal is an important first step in the developing global tv market, and a large part of the public broadcaster’s strategic alliance building as it repositions for the years ahead.

DirecTV, a subsidiary of Hughes Communications, will have one satellite aloft this December, also launched by Ariane 4 rocket from the former French colony on the northeast coast of South America.

The first Hughes HS 601 satellite will start broadcasting next April. cbc programming will start when the second satellite is in orbit.

With both satellites in position above the U.S. Midwest, they will broadcast 150 channels of news, sports, movies and specialty programming such as pay-per-view events to households equipped with the Thomson Consumer Electronics Digital Satellite System.

Sold under the rca brand name, the dss comprises an 18-inch satellite antenna, a compact decoder box and a universal remote control, and will sell for about C$1,000.

Newsworld International will offer DirecTV subscribers a 24-hour-a-day service of worldwide news coverage and current affairs programming tailored for an international audience.

Northstar will offer drama, arts, light entertainment and journalism that is predominantly Canadian and based on the inventories and current production of the cbc. It will also use programming from other Canadian and some foreign sources.

Paul Gaffney, a spokesman at cbc’s head office in Ottawa, says it is not certain Newsworld International will be a commercial-carrying service, although it is expected Northstar will be.