Rogers: Bar U.S. cablers


Breaking ranks with fellow cable operators, Rogers Communications on Tuesday came out in support of rules that bar such top-rated U.S. cable nets as HBO, ESPN and Nickelodeon from entry into the Canadian TV market.

"We are not in favor of removing restrictions on foreign services," Rogers CEO Ted Rogers said during a Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission hearing convened to discuss the potential overhaul of Canada's TV distribution sector. "Some of my cable friends would disagree with me, but we are not in favor of that."

Rival cable operators scheduled to appear at the CRTC hearings during the next three weeks are expected to argue that foreign, mostly U.S., channels that traditionally have been barred from competing with Canadian channels in the same genre should be allowed into the market to increase consumer choice.

Canadian cable channels, which already air much of the programming from Showtime and USA Network on their primetime schedules, are expected to counter that any decision to allow competing U.S. channels into Canada would threaten their survival.

Ted Rogers proposed that popular U.S. channels be allowed to migrate north only if they will not put existing Canadian cable channels out of business.

At the same time, Rogers vice chairman Phil Lind called for the genre protection rule between competing Canadian services to be removed.