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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bell Canada Enterprises in talks to buy French language TV channel V

According to,the company, which is currently in front of the broadcast regulator seeking approval of its purchase of CTV, is said to be pursuing V to gain additional French-language content as it battles with rival Quebecor for market share in this province.The purchase of CTV would give Bell ownership of RDS, which has exclusive rights to broadcast Canadiens games.

However, according to the website, Bell wants to enhance its portfolio of French language stations even farther. Mirko Bibic, Bell's vice-president of regulatory affairs, has said the company would not make another major acquisition before its purchase of CTV received approval from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

V, formerly TQS, is owned by Montreal-based company Remstar Diffusion Inc., and has struggled financially for several years. Remstar bought TQS in 2008, a year after it had filed for protection from creditors. Reached yesterday, Bell spokesperson Marie-Eve Francoeur said the company would not comment about the report.

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Sony, Discovery and IMAX to Launch 3net, the 24/7 3D Television Network, on DIRECTV

3net, the joint venture television network from Sony Corporation, Discovery Communications and IMAX Corporation today announced that DIRECTV will be the first distributor to launch 3net, the 24/7 3D network, beginning February 13, 2011. 3net will initially be available to millions of DIRECTV customers across the country. Even though 3net's initial audience via DirecTV will be less than 100,000 potential viewers, the 3D television network from Discovery Communications, Sony and IMAX has garnered "huge interest" from advertisers in running three-dimensional spots.

3net will go live at 8:00 PM ET on DIRECTV (channel 107) with a primetime slate featuring world premieres of new, one-hour, native 3D original programs CHINA REVEALED and FORGOTTEN PLANET, in addition to the world 3D television premiere of INTO THE DEEP 3D. Throughout February, the network will offer an unprecedented rollout of original 3D series and new program debuts every night at 9:00 PM ET.

3net will deliver compelling, native 3D content to the marketplace and thus serve as a critical driver for consumer adoption of in-home 3D entertainment. The partnership's commitment to the emerging 3D market is historic, with plans for the channel to offer viewers the largest library of native 3D entertainment content in the world by the end of 2011. 

"Today's announcement marks the culmination of a dynamic collaboration, and we are very proud of what has been accomplished in the seven short months since the network began its development," said Tom Cosgrove, 3net's President and Chief Executive Officer. "DIRECTV is the leader in meeting consumer demand for video entertainment and has clearly been an industry innovator in 3D. We are proud to partner with DIRECTV on this historic launch and bring compelling, original 3D programming and key content from our partners to DIRECTV subscribers across the country on a 24/7 basis."

DirecTV, the first affiliate for 3net, is primed to debut the network on Sunday, Feb. 13, at 8 p.m. Eastern. DirecTV has 19.1 million U.S. customers, but of those only "tens of thousands" currently have compatible 3DTV sets to watch 3D programming, according to the satellite operator.Cosgrove, acknowledging the relatively small audience size, said 3net will sell ads using a mix of sponsorships and CPMs. "We're finding ways to work with the advertisers," he said. A lot of these guys have already created 3D commercials."

"Quality 3D programming is vital to the success and increased adoption of the technology, and with industry leaders like Discovery, Sony and IMAX making a commitment to this category, it is clear that 3D is here to stay and is only going to get better," said Derek Chang, executive vice president, Content Strategy and Development, DIRECTV. "We are excited to be the first distributor to announce the launch of 3net and we look forward to continuing to provide our customers with the largest and most compelling 3D programming lineup available."

"The broad availability of high-quality, native 3D content is a critical step towards consumers fully embracing 3D," said Rob Wiesenthal, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Sony Corporation of America. "Beginning February 13, a deep and diverse array of great 3D programming will be available in the home 24 hours a day. 3net is an important element in our strategy to maintain a leadership position in all things 3D."

"Discovery's business strategy has always focused on delivering groundbreaking content through new platforms and technologies. The launch of 3net represents a giant leap in our march to bring audiences the closest-to-real viewing experiences," said David Zaslav, President and CEO, Discovery Communications.

"3net brings together three global brands with a single mission -- to deliver premium 3D entertainment experiences to audiences in the comfort of their own homes," said Richard L. Gelfond, CEO of IMAX. "We are proud to embark on this new venture with Sony and Discovery, and we believe that our popular library of breathtaking IMAX content is in great company with the range of compelling programming from our partners."

Starting in April, 3net plans to beginning running 3D ads. Cosgrove declined to identify advertisers that may be in the mix but said 3net has had discussions with movie studios, automakers and consumer packaged goods companies.Early research suggests that advertising is more effective in 3D. ESPN -- which ran ads from Sony, Gillette and Pixar on its 3D network during the 2010 World Cup -- found that ad recognition grew from 83% in 2D to 94% in 3D and likelihood of intent to purchase rose from 49% to 83%. Moreover, ad "likeability" jumped from 67% to 84%.

However, by TV standards, the number of people who are able to see 3D ads today is miniscule.

Still, it could be many years for 3D television to become as widespread as HD -- if, indeed, it ever comes close. In 2010, consumer electronics companies reported disappointing sales of 3D sets, which require viewers to wear specialized glasses.

Cosgrove declined to comment on how much 3net's partners are investing in the network or when he expects it to break even.Discovery, which is handling distribution on behalf of the 3net JV, is continuing to have carriage discussions with other distributors, a company spokeswoman said.He estimated up to 6 million 3DTVs will ship in 2011, up from a little more than 1 million at the end of 2010.

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