Canada's Rogers adds HDNet


TORONTO -- Canadian cablecaster Rogers Cable Communications on Tuesday launched Mark Cuban's HDNet to bolster its high-definition digital TV offerings.

Toronto-based Rogers, Canada's largest cablecaster, said its HD customers in Ontario and New Brunswick will be offered a free preview period to watch the U.S.-based HDNet service.

"This launch means that Canadian viewers will now see the highest-quality HD programming around, including original programming, investigative news, great original movies and hard hitting sports," Cuban said in a statement after reaching a carriage agreement with the Canadian cablecaster.

 Cuban's HDNet also launched Tuesday on Bell ExpressVu LP, the direct-to-home satellite service owned and operated by Canadian phone giant BCE Inc.

HDNet airs all its programming in 1080i high definition, including such original series as "Dan Rather Reports," "HDNet World Report" and the "MLS on HDNet."

Despite the fact that Canadian broadcasters like CTV Inc., Chum Ltd., Discovery Canada and the Sports Network have begun airing some of their programming in high def, domestic broadcasters continue to lag behind their American counterparts in filling their schedules with HD fare.

As a result, Canadian content carriers have depended on American fare, especially sports programming, to satisfy growing domestic demand for HD content.