French Canadian network's ad revenue was down

MONTREAL — TQS, the least popular of French Canada’s three main TV networks, has filed for bankruptcy protection.

TQS announced Tuesday that it had obtained an order from the Quebec Superior Court that gives it 30 days to reorganize its activities.

TQS is 60% owned by Quebec cabler and broadcaster Cogeco and 40% by CTVglobemedia.

Cogeco CEO Louis Audet said the network has been losing advertising revenue to the French-Canadian pay TV nets and to Internet sites. He also blamed the financial problems on increased production costs.

TQS’ owners were also unhappy that federal broadcast regulator the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission refused to allow general-interest webs to receive fees from cable subscribers just as pay outlets do.

In addition, Cogeco blasted pubcaster Radio-Canada, the French-language arm of the CBC, for acting like a commercial player rather than a publicly owned broadcaster — a complaint Radio-Canada rejects.

TQS has been operating Radio-Canada stations in Saguenay, Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivieres, but Radio-Canada recently announced that it would run those stations itself. Cogeco said that decision also contributed to the company’s decision to seek bankruptcy protection.

TQS is third in the French-Canadian TV ratings behind TVA and Radio-Canada. Its top show is the reality entry “Loft Story.”

TQS’ slogan is that it is the “mouton noir” (black sheep) of Quebec TV, but local auds don’t seem to have been excited by its outsider status.

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