New digi-nets for France
French commercial broadcaster TF1 has announced plans to launch two new satellite channels. The proposed additions include a women’s channel targeting young females, and a business channel focusing on personal finance. Both will be available as part of TF1′s pay TV offerings. Annual operating costs for the women’s channel are estimated at US$17 million and $6 million for the business channel. A distribution platform has yet to be determined, although TF1 owns a 25% stake in Television par Satellite, a digital direct-to-home service.
NFB looks for diversity
The National Film Board of Canada has initiated this year’s Reel Diversity Competition, a contest intended to promote the work of filmmakers of color. The winner will be given CDN$100,000 towards the production of a 40-minute documentary that will be aired on both the CBC and Vision in Canada. The contest is only open to Canadians with television credits. For more information, contact Jefferson Darrell at the NFB, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Japanese competition heats up
Japan’s SkyPerfecTV and DirecTV Japan are planning to merge, inspiring predictions that the transaction will help simplify and therefore benefit the country’s complex pay TV market. DirecTV Japan will add its 400,000 subscribers to SkyPerfecTV’s 1.7 million. The merger was prompted by the need to fortify the competitive position of the two DTH platforms, especially with the upcoming launch of new digital-satellite transmissions from terrestrial broadcasters. The Japanese government is requiring broadcasters to begin such transmissions by December, which could introduce more than 20 new services to the market.
MTV and VH1 in Poland
Music fans in Poland will soon have not one but two 24-hour music channels, the result of an equal partnership between MTV Networks Europe and UPCtv. MTV’s European feed will merge with UPCtv’s Atomic TV to form a single Polish-language entity, MTV Polska, set to launch in July. Sister channel VH1-Polska, which skews to an older audience, will follow.
The CBC on Everest
The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. is airing a live televised expedition to the top of Everest, from March 20 to May 31. Canadian cameramen/climbers Bryon Smith, Tim Rippel and Brad Wrobleski are using an 18kg video phone and satellite phone to send back sound and images in real time. Coverage airs twice daily on CBC Newsworld, and once a day on the main CBC network. Updates are also accessible on their website, www.newsworld.cbc.ca.
BET family on hold
Black Entertainment Television has put plans to launch a family channel on the back burner, according to a report from Electronic Media. Robert Johnson, chairman and founder of the D.C.-based cablecaster, has pledged to develop more African American-themed programming on its existing channels (BET Cable Networks, BET on Jazz and BET Movies/Starz!3) instead.