OUTtv settles with Shaw

Shaw Cable will now offer wider carriage of OUTtv, after a long-standing conflict between the owners of Canada's gay-themed channel and Shaw Communications was settled last month. Similar negotiations with Bell, however, are ongoing.

Shaw Cable will now offer wider carriage of OUTtv, after a long-standing conflict between the owners of Canada’s gay-themed channel and Shaw Communications was settled last month. Similar negotiations with Bell, however, are ongoing.

A CRTC hearing scheduled for July 8 was canceled when OUT withdrew its complaint after entering a written agreement with Shaw.

‘It’s not a perfect world, but it’s a good deal,’ says OUT president Bill Craig. ‘With Shaw, we’ve got the rate that we were after, we’ve got package carriage and we’re quite happy with it.’

As of Aug. 3, Craig says OUT will be offered on Shaw Cable and Star Choice satellite as part of Shaw’s More Movies package, which includes digital channels such as the Independent Film Channel.

Previously, Shaw had refused to bundle OUT with other digichannels, something Craig blames for the channel’s low subscriber revenues – just over $300,000 in 2003, compared to an average $2.6 million for other packaged Category 1 services such as CTV Travel and BookTelevision.

Conflict with Shaw has been ongoing since 2001, when the broadcaster refused to offer the gay channel as part of a free digichannel preview, then did not bundle it with other Cat 1 services.

‘There was a lot of pressure coming out of Vancouver and Calgary [subscribers], and there are gay cowboys,’ says Craig.

A consortium led by Craig bought the channel, then PrideVision TV, in late 2003 and recently rebranded it as OUTtv, with the PrideVision name going to a separate, adult-content channel.

Meanwhile, Craig says Bell and OUT have agreed on a rate, and that the carrier has agreed to offer OUT as part of a package, but the deal still has not been sealed, something Craig expected to happen before the conflict with Shaw was resolved.

‘The pen is poised, but the signature hasn’t happened and in the meantime [Bell] has not put us into a package and continues to offer us as a pay-only service,’ he says.

-www.outtv.ca