The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Corus Entertainment Inc. announced today that they have reached an agreement that would see CBC purchase Corus’ 70% ownership stake in the digital service, Country Canada. As the CBC currently owns 30% of Country Canada, this agreement will give it full ownership and control of this Category 1 digital service, currently available to approximately 340,000 Canadian homes. The agreement is subject to the approval of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
“We are very pleased that CBC and Corus have come to this agreement,” said CBC President and CEO Robert Rabinovitch. “The Country Canada channel is part of CBC’s regional strategy, and full ownership of the channel will provide us with the opportunity to enhance the service and continue to serve Canadians with a digital television service that has a strong regional focus. The addition of Country Canada to the family of CBC television services will have a positive impact on our ability to serve the regions and will not reduce our commitment to serve these regions through our main network’s programming.”
Country Canada was launched in September 2001 as part of the first group of newly licensed digital channels available in Canada. As a Category 1 licensee, Country Canada receives carriage from all cable companies and DTH satellite providers offering digital television. Country Canada explores and celebrates rural Canada, providing a window on the vast landscape beyond Canada’s urban centres.
“We believe that successful digital services will be those that leverage the core programming strengths of their operators and the heart of the Country Canada service is the news and information programming, all of which is provided by CBC Television,” commented John Cassaday, President and CEO of Corus Entertainment. “It is a logical and natural fit for CBC and the transfer of full ownership and control of Country Canada to them will allow Corus to focus on the development and success of our four other digital services which more closely align with our programming expertise.”