Telelatino Network Inc. (TLN) welcomed today’s decision by the Canadian Radio Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to deny the application for distribution of RAI International as a foreign service in Canada.
The decision clears the way for a Canadian perspective to be included in any Italian-language digital service made available to Canadians. The existing license for a RAI Canada service, which was granted by the CRTC in 2000, can now be launched and the commitments to Canadian programming fulfilled.
“We are very pleased with this decision which now clears the way for a 24-hour Italian-language digital television service to be launched by a Canadian company,” said Aldo Di Felice, President of Telelatino Network Inc. “The Italian-speaking community has been rightfully upset at the loss of the RAI programming they had enjoyed for years on TLN due to RAI’s decision to cancel a program supply agreement. We hope that, with this decision behind us, we can move quickly to develop the RAI Canada service that has been licensed for the past three years. It is our goal to ensure that Canadians have every opportunity to enjoy RAI programming through Canadian services. The CRTC’s goal is to ensure that Canadian interests are protected over foreign interests and we are very pleased that today’s decision supports that goal.”
The CRTC’s decision pointed to the importance of supporting the success of Canadian-owned and licensed services and ensuring that they are in a position to fulfill their commitments to airing Canadian-produced programming, a responsibility that eligible foreign services do not have. The application to add RAI International to the list of approved foreign services was denied on the basis that it would compete directly with Telelatino and unlaunched Canadian-based Category 2 digital licenses for similar Italian-language
general interest services.
In 2000, TLN’s parent company, Corus Entertainment, was granted a Category 2 digital channel approval for RAI Canada to be launched in partnership with RAI International, an arm of the Italian state-controlled broadcaster.
In 2003, RAI International applied for access to Canada as a licensed foreign service through the sponsorship of Rogers Cable Inc. During the application process, RAI announced its intention to “rescind” its contractual program supply agreement with TLN, back out of its partnership with Corus
Entertainment for the launch of RAI Canada and seek entry into Canada as a foreign service.
“Telelatino currently provides more than 3000 hours annually of Italian programming to Canadians at an extremely affordable rate on a basic analog cable tier,” added Di Felice. “Italian-Canadian viewers will continue to enjoy Italian programming without incurring the additional costs of digital service. Those that have adopted digital will have even more choice when we launch a Canadian-based Italian-language service that will contribute to our economy, our multicultural fabric and our broadcasting system. We look forward to
continuing TLN’s track record of investing in Canadian programming while providing the best of acquired Italian and Hispanic programs for our viewers.”
TLN Television offers a variety of domestic and international programming in Italian, Spanish and English to 3.7 million Canadian households. TLN is majority owned by Corus Entertainment Inc., a Canadian-based media and entertainment company. Other shareholders of TLN include prominent members of the Italian-Canadian business community.