Comic cable for Canada

CHUM Limited’s City TV/MuchMusic has forged an alliance with Comedy Central to set up a Canadian version of the American comedy channel. The companies on Thursday announced plans to apply for a license to operate a cable service that would feature Canadian talent and programming from the American service.

Marcia Martin, City-TV’s director of independent production, said the partnership gives Comedy Central Canada access to the U.S. channel’s library. The American partner will provide the best of its programs, promo and image spots, marketing support and licensing of the Comedy Central name.

The ownership split is 80% City TV/MuchMusic and 20% Comedy Central (USA). City/Much will manage the service, including original production, programming, sales marketing and operations. City/Much also retains worldwide distribution rights, excluding the United States.

Committed to the best

“And what we produce here will make its way to the U.S.,” Martin said. The American partner has committed to airing the best of the Canadian channel’s material.

City-TV general manager Jay Switzer would not provide particulars about the quantity of Canadian-made fare that would be broadcast in the U.S. but said it was a significant commitment both in hours and dollars.

Martin is spearheading the application. Creative input will be provided by indie producer John Brunton, topper of Insight Prods., in addition to other senior and new Canadian independent producers.

Program proposals, subscriber rates and other specifics are being kept confidential until the application is filed with the Canadian Radio-Television & Telecommunications Commission.

The application will be filed with the federal broadcast watchdog by mid-September. That’s the deadline the CRTC imposed when it called for applications for new specialty services earlier this year.

And the Comedy Central Canada consortium is concerned about tipping its hand to other competitors who may be bidding for a similar service. The CRTC is anticipating dozens of applications for a wide range of new services. It will then hold public hearings — likely by the end of the year — before making its decision on which proposed services, and how many, will be granted new licenses.

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