Commission rejects Zoomer


OTTAWA - Those hoping the CRTC might soon soften its stance on genre protection for established Canadian specialty services may have gotten an answer today with the denial of a category two digital specialty service license application.

Today, the Commission quashed the application for Zoomer - which would have been a digital channel aimed at baby-boomer-aged Canadians - based on the fact it thought the channel, as proposed, would have been too competitive with CanWest Global's analog specialty Prime TV, which got its license as a channel aimed at mature adults and launched as an analog service in 1997.

Learning and Skills Television of Alberta, which is 70% owned by Chum Television, made the Zoomer application earlier this year.

The Commission received 10 interventions in support of the application and one (from CanWest) in opposition.

"Global opposed the application because it considered that the proposed service would compete directly with Prime TV. Global submitted that the programming that would be offered by Zoomer would be essentially 'identical' to that which is presently provided by Prime TV and that it would appeal primarily to the same audience as Prime TV's target audience," reads today's Commission decision. "The intervener also considered that it would be difficult to determine how the applicant would select programming for its service because the proposed nature of service was extremely broad."

In response to CanWest's complaint, "Learning and Skills further maintained that its proposed service would provide diversity in programming for the 50+ age group that would complement that offered by Prime TV. Moreover, it noted that the proposed service would have a limited impact on Prime TV as it would be a Category 2 digital service with limited distribution," reads the Commission decision.

"In the present case, the Commission considers that the applicant's proposed definition of its nature of service is very broad, providing it with considerable flexibility to adjust its programming," said the Commission. "This could allow the proposed service to become directly competitive with Prime TV and other services. The Commission also finds that the proposed service would target the same audience as that currently served by Prime TV and could have a significant negative impact on the intervener's service."

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