HDTV sites boosted to 12 as CRTC greenlights 7 more

Approval comes despite a challenge

Canadian broadcaster High Fidelity HDTV Inc. on Monday overcame charges of genre "squatting" to secure regulatory approval for seven more homegrown high-definition channels.

The move brings to 12 the number of Canadian HD channels that High Fidelity is launching in the domestic market via domestic cable and satellite TV operators.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission awarded Toronto-based High Fidelity new broadcast licenses that include ones for Clash HD, a channel about human conflict, Aqua HD, an ocean sport-themed service, Crafts & Hobbies HD and Seniors Life HD.

The CRTC also approved market entry for the science-themed Eureka! HD service; Center Stage HD, featuring musical performances; and Women's Sports HD, devoted to women's sports and looking to do better than rival broadcaster CTV's failed WTSN — Women's Sports Network service.

During the CRTC licensing process, cable giant Rogers Communications Inc. questioned why the CRTC would consider licensing Canadian HD channels that might not launch, a move that would bar similar genre-themed foreign — especially U.S. HD channels — from eventually making their way into the Canadian TV market.

But the CRTC didn't buy Rogers' arguments and approved all seven licensing applications.

John Pannikar, co-founder of High Fidelity, took exception with Rogers accusing his company of staking claims to particular HD channel genres, allegedly to prevent foreign broadcasters from getting into the Canadian market at a future date.

"That (Rogers' intervention) made us chuckle. We've launched all four channels for which we were previously licensed. And we intend to launch all seven of the new channels," Pannikar said.