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National News

Shaw Media makes plans for news channel

TORONTO - Shaw Media is making plans to launch a national TV news channel called Global News 1.

In filings to the CRTC, the media division of Shaw Communications (TSX:SJR.B), which operates Global Television, says it wants to launch a "hybrid local/national" English-language news channel.

A brief outline of the plans were included in Shaw's submission to the broadcast regulator as part of the CRTC's formal consultation on the evolution of the broadcasting system.

Global News 1 would fall under "Category C" guidelines, which cover all-news channels like the CBC News Network, CTV News Channel, RDI and the Sun News Network.

If approved, cable and satellite companies would have to offer their customers the option of subscribing to the new Global channel, though it would not be a mandatory part of basic cable packages.

Shaw told the CRTC that its application will be for "a service that will expand and diversify the amount of news and information-related programming in the Canadian broadcasting system."

"There is no specialty news service that currently provides such a service in this country, namely the provision of uniquely local reflection," it added.

While Shaw didn't outline exactly how its proposed news channel would operate, it's likely the company would tap into the assets of numerous local TV stations it owns across the country. Shaw also operates a regional news channel in British Columbia called Global News BC 1.

Under its planned business model, the national news channel would help financially support local programming, Shaw told the regulator.

A spokeswoman for the broadcaster declined to discuss the plans until after the licence application is finalized.

Last week, the CRTC wrapped up a formal interventions process on the future of Canadian television, which collected comments from Canadians and the industry. Topics ranged from the so-called pick-and-pay model for cable channels to the future of local television.

Shaw made a few recommendations to the CRTC over changes to how it classifies news channels. The telecom company said the regulator should "introduce minimum thresholds to ensure that only truly national news services benefit from must-carry privileges."

The list of requirements it believes the regulator should enforce include reporters posted in at least nine of the 13 provinces and territories, additional people based overseas to tell stores from a Canadian perspective, and at least 16 hours per day of original news coverage.

"In addition to imposing these requirements on new services, at licence renewals, the Commission should consider whether existing services meet these criteria," Shaw suggested to the regulator.

Sun News Network has been criticized by some outsiders for its limited on-the-ground reporting, heavy editorializing of news coverage and repackaging of content from international news outlets.

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