Canada approves vid on demand

TORONTO — Canada’s broadcast regulator has granted licenses for video-on-demand programming services to all five of the companies that asked for one at public hearings last March.

But the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said Wednesday that television viewers may have a long wait before they can order a movie or event from one of the new licensees.

“Given the substantial technological development and financial investment required for VOD, the commission expects that VOD will be introduced in a gradual fashion.”

Three licenses for bilingual French-English services have been awarded to Allarcom Pay Television of Edmonton, owned by WIC Western Intl. Communications of Vancouver; Electronic Digital Delivery, owned 80% by WIC; and a partnership of Toronto’s Alliance Communications and Shaw Communications of Calgary.

French lingo offered

Canal Indigo will offer a French-language service. Its partners are Viewers Choice Canada (40%), Reseau de Television Quatre Saisons (20%), Cogeco Radio-Television (20%) and Tele-Metropole (20%).

Viewer’s Choice, licensed to provide an English-language service, is also the largest shareholder in Canal Indigo. It holds 50.1% by Montreal’s Astral Communications, through its wholly owned TMN Networks, which operates pay TV movie channels.

The two other partners in Viewer’s Choice are Rogers Pay-Per-View, a unit of Rogers Communications of Toronto, and NetStar Enterprises, a subsidiary of NetStar Communications, also of Toronto.

The bilingual and English-only services must maintain a minimum of one Canadian movie for every 20 non-Canadian feature films in their inventory. The French-language Canal Indigo must maintain a minimum Canadian to non-Canadian ratio of 1:12 for feature films.

Each VOD service must contribute at least 5% of gross annual revenue to a Canadian program production fund, except for Canal Indigo, which committed to contribute 10%.

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