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The sleazy side of Canadian television broadcasting


Shaw Communications announced a $1.2-billion deal to buy CanWest Global's TV assets.

The money shots are coming fast and furious in the world of Canadian television broadcasting. Last week, Montreal-based Sex-Shop Television Inc. announced the launch of the Vanessa Channel, Canada’s first pay TV pornography channel. And this week, Shaw Communications announced a $1.2-billion deal to acquire CanWest Global Communications’ television assets.

The French-language version of Vanessa is expected to debut October 28, with the English version hitting airwaves in late 2011. For $14.95 a month, subscribers can watch erotic dramas, reality shows, and sex-themed documentaries. The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission said the new porn channel must follow industry codes on violence and "equitable portrayals" of the sexes, and must air at least 20% Canadian content.

Equally sordid, the Shaw-CanWest deal will see Shaw pay $700-million to investment bank Goldman Sachs, a majority owner of CanWest’s speciality TV stations. Shaw will get channels like Showcase, HGTV and the Food Network, plus eleven local Global TV stations in Canada, and broadcast rights to a variety of Canadian shows and redistributed U.S. content. The deal also positions Shaw to make big profits from the distribution of television programming online, and through smart phones and other wireless devices.

But whatever may come to pass with the Vanessa Channel and Shaw Communications, no doubt it will be Canadian television consumers who get screwed in the end.

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