HBO hits Canadian airwaves

Shows offered for free on-demand

TORONTO -- HBO has finally made it to Canada -- sort of.

Major Canadian cable and satellite TV operators on Thursday began offering a free, on-demand channel of HBO shows for existing subscribers of domestic pay TV networks the Movie Network and Movie Central, and not the U.S.-based HBO service, which remains barred from authorized carriage here.

TMN and Movie Central are the Canadian licensees of HBO shows.

Rogers Communications, Bell Canada, Star Choice Communications and Groupe Videotron are among the eastern Canadian carriers that launched HBO Canada to TMN subscribers in eastern Canada.

In western Canada, Bell Canada and Star Choice were joined by Shaw Communications, Sasktel and MTS as major carriers that now offer HBO Canada as part of their TV lineup alongside Movie Central.

The deal to bring HBO north was hammered out by Ian Greenberg, president and CEO of TMN-parent Astral Media, and Charles Schreger, HBO International's president of programming sales.