Lionsgate has closed its acquisition of Starz for approximately $4.4 billion in cash and stock. The deal creates one of the largest independent television businesses in the world, a 16,000-title film and television library, the STARZ premium pay network serving nearly 25 million subscribers, a world-class film business and a growing suite of streaming services. Lionsgate will operate Starz as a wholly-owned subsidiary.
Rogers Communications and Sportsnet have announced they will broadcast more than 100 Toronto Blue Jays, NHL, and NBA games in 4K in 2017. Rogers is also introducing the new NextBox 4K PVR, giving customers the ability to record up to eight 4K programs at one time and store up to 90 hours of 4K entertainment. In 2016, more than 30 per cent of new TV purchases were 4K models. 4K sales are expected to top 50 per cent in 2017, particularly for TVs 55” or larger, which are now manufactured almost exclusively in 4K.
Women in Film & Television – Toronto (WIFT-T) is partnering with BravoFACT (Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent) to award $50,000 to the winner of its second annual female-led short film pitch contest. The contest welcomes teams of directors and producers, featuring a woman in a key creative role, to submit their short film pitches. The top five finalists will have the opportunity to pitch their project at the 2017 WIFT-T Showcase in March. The deadline to submit is Jan. 16, with finalists to be announced March 1.
Headlining CTV’s midseason schedule is six-part serial drama Cardinal, produced by Entertainment One and Sienna Films. Starring Billy Campbell and Karine Vanasse, Cardinal follows Detective John Cardinal (Campbell) on a hunt for a vicious killer in a small Northern Ontario town. The series, which premieres Jan. 25, was adapted for television by Canadian Screen Award-winner Aubrey Nealon (Orphan Black, Saving Hope) from Giles Blunt’s John Cardinal Mysteries series. The mid-winter schedule also includes the return of Masterchef Canada and the final season of Saving Hope.
New streaming service TellMe TV is offering Described Video content for visually impaired Canadians. The service, which costs $6.99 a month, launched in November and currently offers 150 movies and TV shows with Described Video, accessible through any web browser. Canadian broadcasters are obligated to provide at least four hours a week of Described Video content with the CRTC mandating that all prime-time TV must be described by 2019.
Bell Media’s BravoFact (Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent) has announced the 11 BravoFACTUAL award recipients from its Dec. 9 jury meeting. Selected from 65 applications, a total of $501,341 was awarded to Canadian filmmakers for the production of short documentary films. Recipients include directors Steve Adams, Elizabeth Lazebnik, Simon Paluck, Kathryn Martin, Byron Hamel, Charlie Tyrell, Andrew Wall, Mariam Zaidi, Jamie Miller, Tassie Notar and Heidi Janz. The next submission deadline for BravoFACTUAL is Feb. 24.