New Shaw Media Channel to Crowd Canadian All-News TV Space

The broadcast giant plans to launch a national news channel, Global News 1, after former NBC News anchor Dawna Friesen became the face of its flagship Global National newscast.

KARLOVY VARY — A crowded Canadian cable TV news business is about to get chaotic.

Broadcast giant Shaw Media has announced it will apply to the CRTC for a license to run Global News 1 as a national, all-news cable channel.

Calgary-based Shaw, which already has former NBC News foreign correspondent and anchor Dawna Friesen as the face of its flagship Global National newscast, is looking to launch an all-news cable channel that takes advantage of its nationwide stable of local TV stations.

In a Canadian TV market where viewers greatly favor U.S. dramas and comedies over homegrown offerings, broadcasters are increasingly relying on sports, news and current affairs programming to stem mounting ad revenue losses.

And the Canadian cable TV sports business is already over-saturated, with Bell Media's TSN, Rogers Media's Sportsnet and Quebecor's TVA Sports channels busily adding channels and prestige sports programming to woo subscribers.

The irony is Shaw earlier received approval from the CRTC to launch a cable sports channel, Shaw Media Sports, and then backed out of the lucrative sports TV market here.

Rival CBC is similarly retreating from professional TV sports coverage and relying on marquee events like the IOC's Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup to stay in the game.

That leaves Shaw pinning its hopes on Global News 1 to help fend off the impact of a worsening TV advertising market and emerging Internet competition with added revenues.

Only existing national news channels run by the CTV and CBC networks have significant market share currently.

But that didn't stop Quebecor, in 2011, launching a version of U.S. Fox News Channel, Sun News Network, as a conservative channel and an antidote to the alleged liberal bias of the CTV and CBC cable news networks.

Unfortunately for Sun News, failing to secure mandatory carriage from the CRTC left it with mounting losses, and a life raft only came when the regulator said TV carriers will be compelled to offer the right-wing news channel to subscribers, while not forcing them to purchase the service.

Shaw's proposed Global News 1 channel similarly will be offered to Canadian TV subscribers as a category C national news channel, either as part of a cable or satellite TV bundle or a la carte.

The launch of Global News 1 also could herald added political campaign advertising revenue for Shaw, as Canada is set to hold a national election in 2015.