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Canucks get a taste of Fox News

Channel will be available through digital cable, satellite

MONTREAL — The Fox News Channel is coming to Canada. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the Canuck broadcast regulator, announced Thursday that it has approved Fox News to be picked up by Canadian cable and satellite services.

It has previously not been available in Canada. It will be made available as a digital service, either via digital cable or satellite.

Fox News has already generated a fair amount of controversy in the country during the time that the CRTC was considering whether or not to let it operate in Canada. The CRTC received 531 statements in favor of bringing in Fox News, including a letter of support from Jewish lobby group B’nai B’rith Canada.

There were 82 statements opposed to Fox entering Canada, including a letter of opposition from the Canadian Assn. of Broadcasters (CAB).

Glenn O’Farrell, president and CEO of the CAB, told Daily Variety his association has concerns about the decision because it allows a non-Canadian service into the country rather than favoring a channel that would be a partnership between Canadian and non-Canadian companies. Fox had been developing a Fox News Canada service with the Canadian-owned Global Television Network, but finally Fox decided to go it alone in Canada.

“Obviously we would’ve preferred to see Fox News Canada come to fruition under a partnership between a Canadian broadcaster and Fox, as opposed to the alternative,” O’Farrell said.

The Canadian Cable Telecommunications Assn., which reps the cable operators, was pleased by the decision.

“Adding new services such as Fox News provides Canadians with a different perspective on world events,” said Michael Hennessy, CCTA president. “Fox News Channel is a top-rated news service in the United States and is an excellent complement to the current Canadian digital line-up.”

Canada’s largest union of media workers was unhappy with the Fox News decision, making a link between the arrival of Fox News and the danger of foreign ownership of the Canadian media.

“Prime Minister Paul Martin must assure anxious Canadians that their telecommunications, cable and broadcast industries will not be sold to foreigners,” said Peter Murdoch, media vice-president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada.

The CRTC also approved the NFL Network for entry into Canada.

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