CanWest signs agreement to air E! entertainment in Canada by Alex Strachan

Apr 25, 2007

Source : Vancouver Sun

CH will carry programs from the U.S.-based network

CanWest MediaWorks is about to add an E! to Canadian entertainment television.

The corporate parent of the Global Television Network and its sister network CH announced a joint operating agreement Tuesday with the U.S.-based E! Entertainment Television Network.

E! Entertainment is the world's largest producer and distributor of entertainment news and lifestyle-related programming. The cable network produces such programs as E! News, a daily entertainment newsmagazine hosted by American Idol host Ryan Seacrest, and the Hollywood biography series E! True Hollywood Story.

The current CH Network will be rebranded as E! beginning this fall. As part of the agreement, CanWest will license and manage E! programming and content in Canada. The deal includes a comprehensive online component, including online, mobile, video-on-demand and satellite radio platforms.

The new-look CH will debut as E! on Sept. 1.

CanWest senior vice-president of programming and production Barbara Williams said the agreement will give CH stations renewed focus and clarity.

"The appetite for celebrity culture seems endless," Williams explained Tuesday. "It is a big part of our world now. When you work in media and television and the online world, entertainment is very much at the root of it -- and that world of entertainment is rooted in the stars."

CH stations will continue to provide their local audiences with local news, information and current-affairs programming. CH's commitment to homegrown, Canadian programming will not be affected, Williams said.

"What's key for people to understand is that our channels' commitments to their local communities and to Canada as a whole is absolutely unwavering," she said. "None of this in any way affects our commitment to Canadian content in prime time, or our priority Canadian programming commitments. What we're doing is using the foreign part of our schedule, which we've always used, but using it differently and using it more smartly and more successfully. And that, ultimately, will help us grow the Canadian pieces of our schedule in-house."

CH has traditionally targeted an older audience than watches the Global Television Network.

By rebranding itself as E!, CH hopes to reach a younger demographic of viewers more coveted by advertisers.

In 2005, CH's parent network Global Television forged an agreement with the producers of the American syndicated program Entertainment Tonight to establish a Canadian version, ET Canada.

ET Canada celebrated its 100th episode early last year, at which time Global claimed it was the "Most Watched Entertainment News Program in Canada," ahead of CTV's eTalk Daily.

CH consists of five local stations across Canada: CJNT in Montreal, CHCH in Hamilton, CHCA in Red Deer, Alta., CHBC in Kelowna, B.C. and CHEK in Victoria. Independently owned CFJC in Kamloops, B.C., is a CH affiliate.

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