CanWest's E! aims for 'destination TV'

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Canadian broadcaster CanWest MediaWorks today will relaunch and rebrand its CH over-the-air TV network simply as E!

But the plan involves more than simply providing E! Entertainment Television with a home up north, said Barb Williams, senior vp programming and production at CanWest MediaWorks.

Williams said Thursday that the Canadian version of E! network — comprising six local TV stations in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia — will aim at creating "destination TV" by focusing on a mix of celebrity news and lifestyle programming.

"We have the very best of different worlds," she said. "We have the power and reach of conventional television, the best of a far-reaching E! brand worldwide, the best of what we all understand about branding TV channels through our cable channel experience and the best in making a connection to local communities."

E! comes about through a content-sharing agreement between CanWest MediaWorks and U.S.-based E! Networks. E! programming will help fill the rebranded Canadian network's daytime schedule. Here, such programming as "E! News With Ryan Seacrest," "The Simple Life" and "Dr. 90210" target E!'s female demographic.

But in primetime, CanWest MediaWorks will continue to rely on hit U.S. network series to attract audiences. Besides such rookie U.S. dramas as "Bionic Woman" and "Cashmere Mafia," E! will feature such returning hits as "Deal or No Deal" and "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" and "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."

Williams said launching E! in Canada as a conventional/cable hybrid makes sense given the change in TV viewing patterns.

"Nothing drives TV like great shows," she added. "But in a fragmented world where audiences are splitting and viewer loyalty is challenged, developing channel and brand loyalty and an emotional connection to the place where the shows are found becomes ever more important."
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