The Movie Network
- Not to be confused with the U.S. premium television service The Movie Channel.
|The Movie Network|
The Movie Network logo
|Launched||February 1, 1983|
|Owned by||Bell Media|
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)
|Slogan||Have It All|
|Broadcast area||Eastern Canada|
|Formerly called||First Choice (1983–1984, 1989–1993)
First Choice Superchannel (1984–1989)
|Sister channel(s)||The Movie Network Encore|
|Website||The Movie Network|
|Bell TV||300-315 (SD)
1251-1259 / 836-840 (HD)
|Shaw Direct||601-605 (SD)
282, 296 (HD)
|Available on most Canadian cable systems||Check local listings, channels may vary|
572, 574, 588, 589 (HD)
|Bell Fibe TV||300-303, 306 (SD)
1300, 1302, 1303, 1306 (HD)
The Movie Network is a Canadian English language Category A premium cable and satellite television channel that is owned by Bell Media. The service is licensed to operate east of the Ontario-Manitoba border, excluding the territories. The channel's name was formerly abbreviated to TMN, which remains a common informal name and is therefore used below for brevity.
The Movie Network is carried by various Canadian cable and satellite television providers in Eastern Canada including Bell TV, Shaw Direct, Rogers Digital Cable, Vidéotron, EastLink, Cogeco, Seaside Communications and other providers. Its programming is similar to that of Movie Central, a separately-owned premium service only available in Western Canada, in areas located west of the Ontario-Manitoba border.
- 1 History
- 2 Channels
- 3 Programming
- 4 Duopoly issue
- 5 References
- 6 External links
In 1976, Communications Minister Jeanne Sauvé was quoted as saying "(Canadian) pay television is inevitable". During the 1970s when premium television service HBO and the then up-and-coming superstation WTBS became available via satellite in North America, some Canadians who were living in underserved rural areas, wanted access to these services. The Saskatchewan government together with Cable Regina set up a provincial pay television network called "Teletheatre" in 1979.
Growth of grey market television receive-only dishes by 1980 led the Canadian government under the administration of Pierre Trudeau to allow for pay television in Canada, and that there would be hearings to licence Canadian pay television networks. In September 1981, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) held a hearing in Hull, Quebec to license Canada's first pay-television networks. There were more than 24 applicants to start such services.
When First Choice made its application to the CRTC in September 1981, the individuals and companies were part of the proposed channel included Donald Sobey (of the Sobeys supermarket chain), J. R. McCaig, Norman Keevil, Royfund Equity Ltd. (a mutual fund division of the Royal Bank of Canada), AGF Management Ltd. and Manufacturers Life Insurance Co. Together, they had $19 million in equity financing and proposed to spend $310.4 million over five years on Canadian television production. Estimated profit (over five years) would be $3.1 million. A pay-TV licence was issued by the CRTC to "First Choice Canadian Communications Corp." on March 18, 1982.
When First Choice applied to the CRTC, it estimated that to program major American movies, entertainment specials and Canadian movies and specials, pay for satellite time, and marketing of the channel, it could sell it to the cable companies at a wholesale rate of $7.50 each month. However, by the time the channel launched, and providers received their revenue from the pay-TV services, the retail cost of First Choice jumped significantly to $15.95.
Launch and evolution
When First Choice, as TMN was then known by, was launched on February 1, 1983, it was a national premium service; its original slogan was "Look Out for Number One! Look Out for First Choice!" The first movie ever to air on First Choice was For Your Eyes Only. The movie aired following a replay of The Who's farewell tour concert special and a two-hour promo for First Choice announcing the programming that it would carry; the airing of The Who concert which had been aired live on other channels the year before, as well as the two-hour promotional ad had several critics wondering about the channel's claims that it would be commercial-free and not play reruns.
At 7 a.m. PT, First Choice aired Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and continued to replay the film every other day for eight hours. The service was offered as a free 14-day preview, then scrambled exclusively to the subscribers who wanted to pay the extra fee to continue receiving the channel. Before the advent of stereo television and home theatre systems, subscribers who paid for cable FM service could receive a stereo feed of First Choice. The channel's first president was Donald MacPherson, who departed in 1984 and was succeeded by Harold Greenberg, who remained president of the network until 1996. During its first year, First Choice aired a two-hour block of programming from the American adult-oriented pay service Playboy Channel in a late night programming block on Fridays. The broadcast of these softcore pornographic programs resulted in opposition from many domestic feminist groups.
After a disappointing run for pay services in general, the industry was restructured and First Choice's service area was restricted to Canadian provinces east of the Ontario-Manitoba border, with competitor Superchannel (now Movie Central) taking territorial rights to the west of that border. Both services used the First Choice-Superchannel name from 1984 to 1988, before they split again in September 1988. Beginning in 1984 (but particularly after the split from Superchannel), First Choice also made use of the slogan "The Movie Network", and this became the name of the channel itself in 1993.
First Choice was originally granted a bilingual licence; it also operated a 24-hour French-language channel under the same licence, which was called Premier Choix. In early 1984, that service was merged with another Quebec-based pay-television network, TVEC, to form Super Écran, which continues to exist today.
On March 4, 2013, the Competition Bureau approved the takeover of Astral Media by Bell Media. Bell filed a new application for the proposed takeover with the CRTC on March 6, 2013; the CRTC approved the merger on June 27, 2013, effectively turning over control of The Movie Network and The Movie Network Encore to Bell.
List of channels
Depending on the service provider, The Movie Network provides up to twelve multiplex channels – six 24-hour multiplex channels; one of which (HBO Canada) is also available on a two-hour delay, and all are simulcast in both standard definition and high definition – as well as a subscription video-on-demand service (The Movie Network OnDemand). The Movie Network broadcasts its primary and multiplex channels on an Eastern Time Zone schedule. Because The Movie Network operates a singular feed and its license is restricted to broadcast solely in a geographical area covered by the Eastern, Atlantic, and Newfoundland time zones, this results in the difference in local airtimes for a particular movie or program between two geographic locations being 90 minutes at most.
The premium classic film service The Movie Network Encore, which is also owned by Bell Media and shares the TMN branding, operates as a separate service under a separate licence – and subscribers to one of the two services do not necessarily have to subscribe to the other. However, TMN Encore is very frequently sold together in a package with The Movie Network. Programs broadcast on TMN are rated according to the Ontario Film Review Board.
- The Movie Network (abbreviated on-air as M): The main "flagship" channel that offers films, documentaries and television series including content from the American pay service Showtime, along with Canadian programming.
- MFun!: This channel airs comedic and light-hearted films, specials and series.
- MFest: This channel focuses on independent and foreign films.
- MExcess: This channel offers action and adventure films, television series and late-night softcore pornographic film content.
- HBO Canada: This channel, to which Bell Media owns the territorial distribution rights for Eastern Canada, offers original programming sourced mainly from American premium services HBO and Cinemax. Some providers also provide the Mountain Time Zone feed of HBO Canada (operating on a two-hour timeshift from the Eastern Time Zone) originated by Movie Central, which is branded on TMN's website as HBO Canada 2.
On September 22, 2008, both TMN and Movie Central announced they would jointly begin offering a dedicated HBO multiplex channel (available in both standard definition and high definition), called "HBO Canada", on October 30. For TMN subscribers, HBO Canada replaced MMore and MMore HD. For Movie Central subscribers, HBO Canada replaced Movie Central 4 and Movie Central 1 HD. The channel remains available at no additional charge to TMN/Movie Central subscribers and, moreover, is not available on a standalone basis.
The channel focuses on programming from the U.S. premium service HBO and its sister network Cinemax, including several original series from the two channels, specials and sporting events not previously available in Canada; however, some programs that have aired on HBO Canada previously have actually aired in the United States on HBO's rival Showtime. A selection of Canadian films and series also airs to satisfy Canadian content requirements. HBO programming now airs solely on HBO Canada, as opposed to any of the other TMN/Movie Central multiplex channels.
The HBO Canada schedule is common to both services, with the exception of Eastern (TMN)/Mountain (MC) timeshifting. Although essentially operating as a joint venture of Bell and Movie Central's parent company Corus Entertainment, the east and west feeds are technically separate channels wholly owned by the parent company of the applicable regional service. In any event, HBO's parent company Time Warner is not a shareholder, and only licenses the name, logo and programming to Bell and Corus. Unlike the other multiplex channels offered by TMN and MC, both the standard-definition and high-definition HBO Canada feeds (East/West) are available nationally to those television providers who wish to carry them.
The Movie Network HD
The Movie Network HD is a high definition simulcast feed of The Movie Network that broadcasts in the 1080i resolution format. In addition to its main channel, The Movie Network also operates high definition simulcast feeds of its three TMN-branded multiplex channels and HBO Canada. The Movie Network launched its HD feed in May 2005. HBO Canada began broadcasting in high definition on October 30, 2008, becoming the first TMN multiplex channel to launch its own HD simulcast feeds; followed by MFun and MExcess in 2010. The remaining TMN multiplex channel, MFest, launched its HD simulcast feed on September 18, 2012.
The Movie Network OnDemand
The Movie Network operates a subscription video-on-demand television service called The Movie Network OnDemand, which is available at no additional charge to new and existing subscribers of The Movie Network. Content featured on the service includes feature films, television series from TMN and outside distributors and specials. HBO Canada operates a separate SVOD service, HBO Canada On Demand, providing feature films along with series content from American premium service HBO; it is also available to subscribers of TMN on most providers at no additional cost.
The Movie Network GO
On February 27, 2013, The Movie Network launched The Movie Network GO (or TMN GO), a website and mobile app for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, which features 1,500 hours of program content available for streaming in standard or high definition. Content featured on the service includes original programming produced domestically by TMN and acquired from U.S. pay services HBO, Cinemax, Showtime and Starz, along with movies, comedy specials, documentaries and sports programming. The Movie Network GO is currently available to TMN subscribers of Bell TV, Bell Fibe TV, Cogeco Cable and Rogers Cable.
Movie Entertainment, previously titled Feature, is The Movie Network's monthly in-house magazine for subscribers, published since June 1990 by Astral (now Bell) subsidiary Feature Publishing. Prior to 1990, subscribers received PrimeTime magazine, a similar publication originated by Superchannel (now Movie Central).
The magazine contains monthly listings for The Movie Network (including HBO Canada) and TMN Encore, as well as various other features related to that month's TMN programming and show business in general. With most service providers, Movie Entertainment is automatically mailed to TMN subscribers, though subscribers may opt-out, in some cases resulting in a monthly savings of C$2, by contacting their provider. Conversely, some service providers (including Shaw Direct) require subscribers to opt-in (for the same $2 charge) if they wish to receive the magazine.
The Movie Network has supply agreements for original programming produced and owned by the American pay networks HBO and Showtime. However, some of the original programming broadcast on the aforementioned U.S. channels is produced by other studios, and in many of these cases the Canadian broadcast rights are held by other channels (for example, the Showtime series Homeland is not covered under TMN's output deal with Showtime; instead it is broadcast in Canada by Super Channel, which has its own output deal with the producing studio's parent company 20th Century Fox).
Before other Canadian specialty networks like TSN and MuchMusic were licensed, First Choice prominently offered commercial-free professional sporting and concert events. Sports events came from such distributors as ESPN, USA Network and HBO.
As of August 2013, The Movie Network has exclusive first-run movie rights with domestically-based Alliance Films, and American film studios such as Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (including Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, Disneynature and Touchstone Pictures), Sony Pictures Entertainment (including Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Classics, Screen Gems and TriStar Pictures), Universal Pictures (including Universal Animation Studios, Working Title Films, Illumination Entertainment and Focus Features) and Warner Bros. Entertainment (including Warner Bros. Animation, New Line Cinema and Castle Rock Entertainment).
List of programs broadcast by The Movie Network
- Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures
- Durham County
- Less Than Kind
- The Line
- Living in Your Car
- Terminal City
- ZOS: Zone of Separation
Programs acquired from HBO (U.S.)
Programs acquired from Showtime (U.S.)
Other acquired programs
For many years, the de facto twin regional monopolies of The Movie Network and Movie Central have been criticised. At the time, no other similar premium services broadcast within Canada. Critics argued that this limited competition and consumer choice, while proponents said that there was very little in content or functionality that was not already offered by the existing services.
In July 2005, the CRTC, the Canadian federal broadcast regulator, announced that public hearings would begin on October 24 of that year on four applications for new national pay television licences from different groups. Each applicant clained that they would commit to invest and develop more Canadian-produced programming content. On May 18, 2006, the CRTC announced that had accepted an application by Allarco Entertainment, while the other three were rejected. This approved application effectively ended The Movie Network/Movie Central duopoly in Canada. On November 2, 2007, the new service was launched as Super Channel.
- "CANADIAN TRADE-MARK DATA - Application Number 0537276". Canadian Trade-marks Database. Canadian Intellectual Property Office. Retrieved 2012-06-19.
- Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (1984-01-24). "Decision CRTC 84-32". Retrieved 2012-06-19.
- BCE takeover of Astral OK’d by Competition Bureau, The Montreal Gazette (via The Canadian Press), March 4, 2013.
- Astral and Bell Comment on New Acquisition Application to CRTC, Broadcaster Magazine, March 6, 2013.
- CRTC approves Bell-Astral merger, CBC News, June 27, 2013. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
- "Rogers | Sign up for the Movie Network". Gettmn.ca. Retrieved 2012-05-13.
- Astral/Corus press release, September 22, 2008.
- Classic Movie Channels Mpix and MorePix Re-Brand to The Movie Network Encore and The Movie Network Encore2 CNW 2012-08-20
- "The Movie Network Launches Three Video Streaming Services". Broadcaster Magazine. February 28, 2013. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
- "Movie Entertainment Magazine". TheMovieNetwork.ca. Bell Media. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
- "CRTC Decision 2006-193". Crtc.gc.ca. 2006-05-18. Retrieved 2012-05-13.
- Westell, Dan. "Pay-TV: Visions of riches lure big bidders", Globe and Mail, September 26, 1981
- The Movie Network
- TMN HD
- The Movie Network GO
- HBO Canada
- The Movie Network's program listings Magazine
- Saskatchewan 2005: Teletheatre info
- TMN on MBC