OUTtv hearing

An ongoing conflict between Shaw Cable and the owners of PrideVision TV and OUTtv may be settled sooner than expected, following a CRTC hearing set for July 8, after which the commission will have one week to make a ruling. The 'expatiated' hearing is the first to be held over a broadcast matter.

An ongoing conflict between Shaw Cable and the owners of PrideVision TV and OUTtv may be settled sooner than expected, following a CRTC hearing set for July 8, after which the commission will have one week to make a ruling. The ‘expatiated’ hearing is the first to be held over a broadcast matter.

The owners of the gay-aimed digichannels say they are on the verge of suspending service because Shaw, and its satellite wing Star Choice, have refused to carry the channels in a bundle with other Category 1 services.

‘I don’t want to think it is homophobia, but there is a real concern,’ says Bill Craig, president of Pride and OUT. ‘This is not a new issue for the CRTC.’

Shaw, on the other hand, insists it is honoring the contract it struck with Pride’s original owners in 2001. ‘We have a contract with Pride for the carriage of that service and that contract has been in place for several years,’ says Shaw president Peter Bissonnette. He says Craig, head of a consortium that bought the channel in late 2003, is trying to rewrite a good-faith agreement.

‘Our contract says we’ll sell it the way we sell it,’ says Bissonnette. He says Shaw would consider renegotiating if Pride’s owners lowered their wholesale rate.

The argument has gone back and forth for some time, starting in 2001 when Pride claimed it had been ghettoized on the Shaw lineup.

The struggling channel switched to an all-porn lineup earlier this year while also spinning off the talk- and lifestyle-focused OUT.

‘To survive in a pay-only environment, PrideVision was forced to go looking for adult content,’ says Craig. ‘We wanted to launch a new brand because we did not want to be associated with adult programming, especially when our programming is clearly lifestyle.’

Pride’s subscriber revenue for 2003 was just over $300,000, compared to an average of $2.6 million for other packaged Cat 1 services such as iChannel, CTV Travel or BookTV. Craig blames this on the shutout by Shaw.

Craig says he is close to settling a similar dispute with Bell.

-www.pridevisiontv.com

-www.outtv.ca

-www.shaw.ca