Rogers to launch new sports channel

Broadcast must comprise substantial Canadian programming

TORONTO -- The 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games may have wrapped, but there appears to be no end in sight for Canada's appetite for TV sports.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) on Tuesday gave domestic broadcaster Rogers Broadcasting the go-ahead to launch a digital cable sports channel featuring NHL hockey games, Major League Baseball games and European soccer and other professional sporting events.

Rogers' existing cable sports channel, Rogers SportsNet, was part of the Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium that broke TV viewership records here with its broadcast of the Vancouver Games.

The broadcast license for Rogers' latest sports channel, to run to August 31, 2016, stipulates 60% of the broadcast day and at least 50% of the evening broadcast period must comprise Canadian programming.

That condition will hardly bother Rogers, Canada's largest mobile phone and cable company, whose SportsNet cable channel already features Toronto Maple Leafs hockey games.

And Rogers owns and operates the Toronto Blue Jays MLB club, and OLN, the outdoor lifestyle channel that features professional rodeo events and Tour de France races.

The CRTC in recent years has licensed a number of new cable sport channels, including the NHL Network and Raptors TV, as Canadians remain avid TV sports fans. 

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. received approval to launch CBC Sports Plus, its own cable channel devoted to professional and amateur sports.
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