By Joe Fries
A Canadian media heavyweight is trying to elbow its way into three Okanagan cities with a promise of new “hyper-local” TV channels.
Corus Entertainment has applied to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to begin broadcasting in 64 cities and towns across Western Canada, including Penticton, Kelowna and Vernon.
Currently dubbed LOCAL1, the proposed stations would provide a mix of news, weather and community information all on a “multi-zoned layout.” The parent company has sent a letter to Kelowna city council asking that it support the CRTC application at a time when “some broadcasters are reducing or cancelling local TV programming.”
A website set up to explain the station claims it “will also benefit local merchants in each community.
“The purchase of advertising time on conventional radio and television services is not a viable option for most small businesses. LOCAL1 with its locally tailored content represents an exciting new opportunity for these businesses to reach their customers on a cost-effective basis.”
The website adds, though, that the CRTC dropped the LOCAL1 application from its list of hearings scheduled for April for unspecified reasons. A sidebar on the site says the company’s legal name is Corus Audio and Advertising Services, but “our viewers and advertisers know us as the operators of the TV Listings Channel and EyesOn TV.”
However, that company is owned by Corus Entertainment, a media heavyweight with assets that include YTV, Nickelodeon Canada, Cosmopolitan TV and Movie Central, while its stable of 50 radio stations includes Vancouver’s CFOX and CKNW.
Corus Entertainment took in revenue totalling $789 million in 2009, and its shares trade on stock exchanges in Toronto and New York. The company was spun off from Shaw Communications in 1999.
Meanwhile, Shaw has made a bid to buy the assets of bankrupt Canwest Global Communications, which controls Kelowna’s CHBC-TV. That bid is awaiting approval from the courts, creditors and the CRTC. Shaw also operates community news channels across Western Canada, including here in the Okanagan.