Bell Media will rebrand its TMN Encore channel early next year to bring Lionsgate’s Starz premium pay television platform to Canada


Bell Media will rebrand its TMN Encore channel early next year to bring Lionsgate’s Starz premium pay television platform to Canada. The collaboration marks the first international launch of Starz since Lionsgate acquired the network in Dec. 2016. Starz content will be introduced across Bell Media platforms, including CraveTV, with Lionsgate films also available to subscribers of French-language Pay TV service Super Écran. Bell Media’s collaboration with Lionsgate also encompasses future exclusive first-window access to the studio’s slate of Hollywood movies.

Rogers Media is ending its three-year joint venture with VICE Canada, saying it wants to redirect money toward content that better aligns with its brand. The VICELAND channel, which launched in Feb. 2016, will remain on air until Mar. 31. Rogers has transferred its interest in VICE Studios to VICE Canada, which has acquired full ownership of the VICELAND content library. VICE says it will be announcing new Canadian partnerships shortly. It currently has a deal with Bell Media to broadcast VICE News Tonight and a partnership with W5 to produce two documentaries focused on the opioid crisis.

BCE Inc. has asked the Supreme Court of Canada (SCOC) for an expedited court process and a stay of the CRTC’s decision to ban simultaneous substitution during the Super Bowl. The move comes just weeks ahead of the 2018 event on Feb. 4, with Bell Media’s hope that a stay would allow it to sell unsold Super Bowl ad slots for full price. The application follows a December Federal Court of Appeal decision denying Bell’s challenge. The National Football League (NFL) filed a separate notice of application this month for leave to appeal to the SCOC.

The CRTC has approved an an application by Vintage TV Canada (VTC) for a broadcasting licence to operate the “vintage” music programming channel as a licensed discretionary service. Vintage TV Canada, which launched in Oct. 2016, has confirmed that it’s exceeded the 200,000 subscriber threshold for the operation of an exempt service.

The CRTC has granted TVA Group Inc., an amendment to its broadcasting licence for TVA Sports. Specifically, Quebecor had requested that licence conditions be eased to allow the service to average the maximum amount of 12 minutes of advertising material offered in each clock hour over the broadcast day. The CRTC previously granted the same amendment to RDS, to allow for flexibility during live sporting events where advertising windows are influenced by the course of the event being broadcast.

The CRTC has approved Stingray Digital Group’s application for broadcasting licences to operate national, English-language discretionary services Stingray Juicebox, Stingray Loud, Stingray Retro and Stingray Vibe. The former Much-branded channels were abandoned when they no longer qualified for exempt status.

Ericsson has been selected by Bell Canada to power its next generation multiscreen TV services. Bell says Ericsson’s cloud-based MediaFirst TV Platform will enable it to offer an enhanced, personalized and converged multiscreen TV experience to its Fibe TV and Alt TV subscribers. The multi-year deal expands on the companies’ long-term relationship, which dates back to the 2010 launch of Bell’s Fibe TV service and deployment of IPTV platform Mediaroom. When integrated with Mediaroom, MediaFirst will deliver a platform with the ability to easily incorporate third party apps.

DHX Media and Mattel Creations, the television and digital content creation division of Mattel Inc., have inked several international deals for the latest seasons of Fireman Sam and Bob the Builder. Season 11 of Fireman Sam have been struck with France Télévisions; Hop! Media Group (Israel); and MiniMini+, part of Canal+ International (Poland). In home entertainment, rights for Season 11 of Fireman Sam have been signed to Universal Home Video (France), ABC Commercial (Australia) and justbridge (Germany and Austria), while theatrical rights have been signed to Pathé Live (France). Additionally, Season 3 of Bob the Builder has been picked up by SuperRTL (Germany); Télé-Québec (Canada); Hop! Media Group; and MiniMini+. ABC Commercial has also picked up home entertainment and SVOD rights for Australia.

CraveTV’s HBO offerings are getting a boost with Game of Thrones joining its streaming lineup on Feb. 16. Crave’s HBO Collection is expanding over the coming months to include new titles Girls (Feb. 9), The Young Pope (Feb. 23), Silicon Valley (March), The Leftovers (April), Ballers (May), and Vice Principals (Fall 2018).

Christopher Plummer, Denis Villeneuve, J. Miles Dale, and Guillermo Del Toro

Oscar nominations announced so far include Canadian Christopher Plummer, who has received a supporting actor nod for his role in All the Money in the World. Quebec director Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 received multiple nominations in the craft categories, while Toronto’s J. Miles Dale shares in the best-picture nomination for The Shape of Water. Filmed in Toronto and Hamilton, the dark, Guillermo Del Toro fantasy came just shy of tying the record of 14 nominations shared by All About Eve, Titanic and La La Land. Bell Media co-production The Breadwinner was also nominated for best animated feature.