Shaw Media files plan to create 24-hour all-news TV channel

Canada’s second-biggest private broadcaster plans to launch an all-news specialty TV channel in British Columbia this summer.

VANCOUVER — Canada’s second-biggest private broadcaster plans to launch an all-news specialty TV channel in British Columbia this summer.

Shaw Media (TSX:SJR.B) filed an application Wednesday with the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission to start the regional all-news speciality channel.

The station will bear the Global BC brand and provide local, national and international headlines 24-hours-a-day.

B.C. is Global TV’s strongest market, said Kenton Boston, senior director of national news and station manager at Global BC.

“So certainly there’s a brand awareness that’s pretty much unrivalled in any market in Canada,” he said in an interview.

It’s too soon to say whether the concept will expand elsewhere in Canada, Boston added.

“Certainly those are discussions that are ongoing,” he said.

“I would say that we’re very optimistic that this will work and we’re very optimistic about the future. So we’ll just have to get B.C. launched and see what the cards hold as we move forward.”

Currently, CBC and CTV have national all-news channels and Quebecor Media (TSX:QBR.B) launched the Sun News Network last year.

In Quebec, Radio-Canada and Quebecor’s TVA French-language broadcaster also have all news channels.

The new Global TV station will set itself apart from the pack with its regional focus, said Boston.

“Will we cover the big stories of the day and international stories? You’ll probably see them at some point, but they are not going to be the focal point like channels that are based in Toronto.”

Veteran Global BC anchor Jill Krop will host a prime time talk show, but other details of the channel’s lineup are still being worked out.

“You will see Global BC personalities on the news channel — to what extent, that’s something that we’re still trying to figure out,” said Boston.

Global is also looking at new hires, but is not ready to announce how many yet.

Shaw Media president Paul Robertson said the station reflects the company’s commitment to help grow and develop Global News, which it acquired last year in the purchase of Global TV from the bankrupt Canwest newspaper chain and TV broadcaster.

The station has yet to be named, but hopes to launch by this summer. There was no indication whether other Global TV operations in Ontario, Alberta and other parts of Canada would also eventually expand their news operations.

“The creation of an all-news channel in B.C. demonstrates our commitment to help grow and develop Global News in new and exciting ways,” Robertson said in a release.

“This all-news network will build on Global BC’s proven success and represents a major step towards expanding Global News’ reach and accessibility province-wide.”

The announcement Wednesday came a day before Shaw Media’s parent company, Calgary-based Shaw Communications Inc. releases financial results and holds its annual meeting.

Analysts’ estimates compiled by Thomson Reuters put revenue at $1.3 billion for the first quarter with earnings per share at 46 cents.

Shaw gained control of the Global Television network when it bought the broadcasting assets of Canwest Global Communications in 2010 for $2 billion.

Under that deal, it acquired 11 conventional TV stations across the country and a group of specialty channels, including Showcase, MovieTime and HGTV — making the company the No. 2 private broadcaster after Bell Media’s CTV operations.

Last year, Shaw decided to retreat from its push into the cellphone business and write down the value of related assets.

The company announced on Sept. 1 it would drop its plan to use federally licensed radio spectrum to build a network for cellphones and other mobile devices.

Instead, it has opted to establish an extensive wireless network that will let customers use Shaw services outside the home — at coffee shops, shopping malls and other “hotspots.”

Shaw Communications (TSX:SJR.B) is Canada’s second-biggest cable TV operator and also has satellite TV operations.

Shares in the company fell 10 cents to $20.48 in Wednesday trading.

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