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Vid�otron wants to offer its own HD channel

Companies in this story
Vid�otron Lt�e
Articles in related categories
CRTC/Regulatory - TV
Cable companies
HDTV/digital television
OTTAWA - With no over-the-air programming available in high definition in the province of Quebec, cable operator Vid�otron has applied to the CRTC to be able to compile and offer its own HDTV channel.

In a public notice issued today (2004-31), the Commission outlines Vid�otron's temporary plans to offer its customers more HD, "consisting of the HD programs of television signals that are licensed elsewhere in Canada but whose programming is not yet available in HD in the province of Quebec," says today's release. "Vid�otron also requests a condition of licence, pursuant to Section 7 of the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations (Regulations), so that it may alter or curtail each of these television signals in order to assemble and distribute its proposed HD service."

Should the request be approved, Vid�otron will make the compiled HD content available to its digital customers at no extra charge until September 2007, unless local broadcasters switch to HD before then, at which time the company would drop this channel. When there is no HD content to be shown, Vid�otron told the Commission it will show an "image of an aquarium of exotic fish in HD format."

No HD, beyond a test signal, is currently available over the air in Quebec and the current HD plans outlined by Canada's broadcasters concentrate mostly on Toronto. For example, Citytv Toronto offers some HD content and CTV is delivering its prime time U.S. schedule in HD in Toronto. Other HD license-holders have aired little, if any high definition programming and the French-language broadcasters have yet to take steps to make or air HD content.

Vid�otron offers HD set top boxes to its customers and also sells the Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8000HD, which is also a PVR, and delivers HD services from four American networks it gets from Detroit (ABC, NBC, CBS and PBS), The Movie Network, and some pay-per-view movies, says Edouard Trepanier, the company's vice-president, regulatory affairs. Sportsnet HD is "to come", says Vid�otron's web site.

As for adding TSN HD and Discovery HD, the two other main Canadian HD specialty brands now available, Trepanier says talks there have stalled. "They don't want to give us the signal," he said. "We have other files with them which we don't agree and this is a bargaining chip."

Both Star Choice and Bell ExpressVu have been offering HD content compiled in this way to its customers for over a year.
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