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CRTC approves Jewish TV channel

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CRTC - television
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OTTAWA - The CRTC has approved a television channel that will broadcast Jewish programming around the clock.

JTV, (Jewish Television) � is "directed particularly towards young Jewish Canadians [and would] offer programming that reflects the Jewish religion and lifestyle," the CRTC said in its decision.

JTV was granted a Category 2 licence, meaning it will be distributed only on the digital tier of channels. As well, the licensee, Toronto-based MediaNet Canada Ltd., still must convince cable companies and satellite services to carry the service.

MediaNet Canada owns and operates several FM radio stations that broadcast in German, Sinhalese and Tamil. It also owns Tamil TV, available in Toronto on Rogers' channel 618.

It has also been granted licences for a Russian-language television service, as well as channels that will offer movies, news and movies.

Under the conditions of licence not less than 55 per cent of all programming will be in Yiddish and Hebrew; not more than 20 per cent in English; not more than 10 per cent in French; and not less than five per cent in Arabic, Russian and German.

At least 15 per cent of all programming must be Canadian content, although management is planning to exceed that level.

"We're hoping to get interest from Jewish organizations and community members," says Phillip Koneswaran, vice-president of business development at MediaNet.

Koneswaran, whose family has operated Tamil-language media outlets in Sri Lanka and Germany, said some shareholders in MediaNet are Jewish, "and were looking to expand."

In the meantime, "we're looking for acquisitions and preparing for distribution." The company, he said, will search for qualified individuals in the Jewish community to serve as program directors.

In order to satisfy the Hebrew requirement, Koneswaran said the channel will broadcast news, analysis, documentaries and public affairs programs from Israel.

The channel also plans to offer programming in religion, drama, comedy, professional and amateur sports, music, human interest and public service announcements.

"The aim is not so much political as cultural," Koneswaran said.

In its licence application, filed last year, MediaNet said the service "will be directed towards the Jewish community market in Canada only." As well, English and French content will be "directed towards Jewish Canadians, especially towards young Jewish Canadians, to enhance the Jewish religion as well as lifestyle in a broader sense."

The goal, Koneswaran noted, is a cross-Canada, 24-hour-a-day Jewish channel.

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