November 24, 2000
2:30 PM   Subscribe

The body that regulates cable in Canada, the CRTC, is licensing 283 new channels. All will be available only through digital set-top boxes.

Along with the expected Biography, Mystery, and ZDTV channels, in the mandatory tier we're getting Book Television from CHUM, a gay and lesbian channel, a documentary channel, and Land and Sea, a rural service from the CBC. If that wasn't wacky enough, the optional channels will include BBC Canada, the Wine Television Network, two wedding channels, several hockey channels, and channels dedicated to theatre, poetry, jazz, dance, pets, South Asian culture, international film, horses, law, martial arts… just about anything you can think of, actually.

While I don't expect they can all survive, it should make for an interesting six months.
posted by tranquileye (7 comments total)

What no channel for Beer?
posted by Brilliantcrank at 3:25 PM on November 24, 2000

Nor for bacon. Shame!
posted by tranquileye at 3:45 PM on November 24, 2000

Channel 217 from Category 2 sounds particularly appealing... "The Nerd Network."
posted by waxpancake at 6:11 PM on November 24, 2000

But you're all missing the most imporant one of all, the Canadian bacon fried in Moslen Dry beer channel. Whoo-hoo!!
posted by Tasia at 6:31 PM on November 24, 2000

I think we should put them all on an island and let them fight it out.

posted by Steven Den Beste at 6:58 PM on November 24, 2000

This line from the CBC report is rather confusing: "The launching of digital TV channels is expected to give Canadians an incentive to switch from analog to digital television."

Digital cable/satellite and digital TV have almost nothing to do with each other. Digital cable just enables more channels over the same amount of bandwidth as an analog signal; it's not the same as HDTV, which is what most people think of when they think of "digital television."

Is Canada doing something like what the U.S. government has mandated-getting rid of analog over-the-air signal?

I'm glad the article clarified that most of Canada can't even get digital cable yet. Not only that, but it's not guaranteed that those customers able to get digital cable will switch. There needs to be a high-enough incentive.
posted by Electric Elf at 10:20 PM on November 24, 2000

No, digital cable isn't HDTV, nor is DVD as far as that goes. But it is a digital, as opposed to analog, signal.

I don't know what the state of HDTV is here in Canada. I expect its a wait-and-see situation, as Canada is a bit of a slave to US technical choices. 80% of homes in Canada have cable, so I think the commission is more concerned about services delivered through cable and DBS satellite.

As far as incentives go, what I have seen in Ottawa is a scaling back of PPV on analog cable to just one channel from the six or so they had used before. The main attraction to digital is the sports PPV package that allows you to watch any televised NHL or NFL game being played in North America. This doesn't interest me too much, but I have a friend in Toronto who is a Seahawks fan, and he has it.

The Playboy channel is also available here, so the porn-as-killer-app theory may get a boost. The irony about this is that back in the early-80s Canada's one pay movie channel, First Choice, tried to run some Playboy material at midnight on weekends, but was stopped by the usual unholy left-right anti-porn coalition.

What strikes me about the CRTC's approach is that they are pretty much saying that anyone who wants a channel, and can set one up, can go to the cable companies and sell it to them. There has been quite a change since the early-1980s when the commission went through a long process to determine who would be on pay TV, and then watched that first wave of services fail.

Instead of the Web becoming like TV, TV is becoming like the Web.
posted by tranquileye at 4:36 AM on November 25, 2000

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