Super Channel files for bankruptcy protection

Canada's upstart pay TV network launched in 2007

TORONTO -- Super Channel, Canada's upstart national pay TV network, has filed for bankruptcy protection.

The privately owned Edmonton-based channel, which was launched in October 2007 by Allarco Entertainment, plans to continue in business after it filed on Wednesday for protection from creditors in an Alberta court under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act.

"We want to make it clear to our customer base that Super Channel is not bankrupt or in receivership. Operations continue without interruption," Super Channel president Malcolm Knox said in a statement to subscribers and program suppliers.

The court filing indicates Super Channel made little headway in its attempt to break up a virtual pay TV monopoly since 1984 by the Movie Network in eastern Canada and Movie Central in western Canada.

Both TMN and Movie Central have longtime output deals with HBO, Showtime and the major Hollywood studios, and last year launched HBO Canada to bolster their subscriber appeal.

Super Channel also faced new competition since 2008 from U.S. movie channels Turner Classic Movies and American Movie Classics, both of which landed on Canadian cable and satellite TV schedules.

The court protection filing indicates Super Channel currently has 220,000 subscribers, well behind an 800,000 projection for its first four years, and liabilities that total CAN$139 million ($123 million).

The pay TV network has supply deals with Channel Four, 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate and MGM, from which it has secured some movie and TV miniseries and series product.