Al-Arabiya TV cleared for Canada

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TORONTO -- Canada's TV watchdog on Friday cleared the way for Al-Arabiya, the Dubai-based satellite TV channel, to be licensed for carriage in Canada.

But unlike in the Middle East, the all-news channel will not have to compete with Qatar-based al-Jazeera TV in Canada.

Last year, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission licensed al-Jazeera for carriage here -- on the condition that cablers and other content carriers edit out violence or hate messages originating from the controversial Arabic-language channel.

As of yet, no Canadian content carrier has agreed to take up the expense, or bother, of editing al-Jazeera.

The CRTC imposed no such restrictions when licensing Al-Arabiya, even though the Arabic-language news channels in the past has drawn criticism from the Iraqi government for its coverage of that country and its ongoing conflict.

The broadcast regulator instead agreed to a request from cable giant Rogers Communications that Al Arabiya News Channel be added to the list of eligible satellite services for distribution on domestic digital cable and satellite platforms.

The CRTC said it received 70 submissions in support of Rogers' application for Al Arabiya carriage, most arguing its entry into the Canadian market will increase understanding of the Middle East among Canadians.

Only one submission, from homegrown Arabic-language service Arabic Television Network, opposed adding Al Arabiya to cable and satellite schedules, arguing that it had been refused carriage by Rogers.

Al Arabiya will face competition in Canada from ABU Dhabi TV, which features mostly Arabic-language content.

But the CRTC concluded that Al Arabiya will compete against no existing Canadian pay or cable services, and so should be granted carriage rights in Canada.

Other foreign channels approved for Canadian entry Friday include Caracol Television International, HTV, El Gourmet.com and the U.S.-based MBC Channel.
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