Former Chum CEO aims to run new channels

CRTC will consider Jay Switzer's license applications in April

TORONTO -- Former Chum CEO Jay Switzer has resurfaced as head of a local consortium bidding to run four new Canadian cable channels.

Switzer, head of Canadian broadcaster Chum Ltd. until it was acquired by Rogers Media in 2007, has applied to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for a broadcast license to operate two action-adventure-themed niche channels, Velocity and Adventure.

Switzer, with backing from former THINKFilm founder Jeff Sackman and former Salter Street executive Catherine Tait, is also looking for two additional broadcast licenses for the female-skewing romance services Kiss and The Love Channel.

The CRTC will consider the license applications in April.

Switzer's 2007 exit from Chum came at the height of Canadian industry consolidation where sector leaders Canwest Global Communications Corp., CTVglobemedia and Rogers Media were buying up TV assets as others with less tolerance for risk in an increasingly digital environment looked to cash out.

Now the former TV execs are using their war chests to back existing companies or start-ups as angel or active investors.

"Here's an interesting group of guys who understand the content business and do make gut bets," said Nathan Gunn, CEO of social media game producer Social Game Universe, which recently landed financing from industry veterans like U2 concert promoter Michael Cohl, former Nelvana co-founder Clive Smith, Standard Radio's Gary Slaight and Score Media's John Levy.

Separately, Moses Znaimer, another former Chum executive, recently purchased the spiritual cable channel VisionTV to get back into broadcasting.

Jay Switzer was part of another syndicate deal that saw former Alliance Atlantis Communications distribution chief Ted Riley and Gary Slaight, who sold Standard Radio to Astral Media in 2008, jointly invest in GlassBox TV, a cross-platform broadcaster.
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