OUTtv's licensee is 6166954 Canada Inc. which is 51% owned by Shavick Entertainment, 21.43% owned by Pink Triangle Press, 15% owned by Peace Point Entertainment Group, 8.41% owned by Score Media Inc. and 4.16% owned by various other investors. OUTtv has offices in both Toronto, Ontario and Vancouver, British Columbia.
Launched on September 7, 2001 as PrideVision TV by Headline Media Group, it was the world's first 24-hour LGBT cable television channel. It consisted of lifestyle and general entertainment programs including dramas, feature films, talk shows, erotic adult movies and more. It was one of 21 television channels that were granted a category 1 (mandatory carriage) status by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). PrideVision was licensed on November 24, 2000 to Headline Media Group (which owned 70.1% of the channel) and Alliance Atlantis (which owned 29.9%). In February 2001, before the channel's launch, Alliance Atlantis sold its interest in the service to Headline Media Group, becoming the sole owner of the licence.
The channel had considerable difficulty building an audience in its early years, because its adult content was leading many cable operators to offer it only as a standalone premium channel in the adult tier of cable services, rather than treating it as a general interest channel and adding it to a package along with other channels. This particularly affected the channel in Western Canada, where time zone differences meant that adult programming airing after midnight in Ontario was airing as early as 10 p.m. in British Columbia.
The station's facilities at its initial launch included a street-level studio in Toronto's Church and Wellesley gay village. Because of financial constraints, however, this studio was closed in December 2002.
As a result of these factors and the channel's reputation for providing a weak mix of programming, Headline Media Group's management of the channel was widely criticized both in business circles and by gay and lesbian audiences. Headline Media was also criticized for an ad campaign in several gay publications, which some readers interpreted as stating that gay and lesbian viewers had an obligation to support the channel.
On May 28, 2004, Headline Media sold majority interest in the channel to broadcaster William Craig, with Pink Triangle Press and other independent production companies, while itself still holding a minority interest. Craig moved the channel's operations into a shared facility with Stornoway Communications, the licensee of two other digital cable channels at that time, and also announced plans to move PrideVision's adult programming to a new adult channel, in order to secure better cable distribution for the general interest programming.
Re-branding as OUTtvEdit
In November 2004, PrideVision, in preparation for the launch of a new adult service, was temporarily renamed HARD on PrideVision, exclusively airing adult content in primetime (9pm-6am EST) while lifestyle and general entertainment programming aired during the remaining time peroid. When the new adult service was launched, the company planned to remove all adult content from HARD on PrideVision, which would be renamed as OUTtv. The HARD on PrideVision name would be moved to the adult channel with a 24-hour/7-day-a-week adult content schedule.
This was done in the hope of creating an illusion of PrideVision evolving into a 24 hour adult service, although this did not happen.
The new adult service was licensed as 617 on March 4, 2005. The expected launch date was April 7 2005, but the new channel went on the air on April 12 because of difficulties with digital cable and satellite providers. On that date HARD on PrideVision's lifestyle programming expanded to full-time, HARD on PrideVision was renamed OUTtv, and the new adult service took over the HARD on PrideVision name.
Shavick Entertainment's acquisitionEdit
On July 19, 2006, it was announced that Shavick Entertainment, a film and television producer including various gay-themed programming such as Dante's Cove, will acquire a majority interest in OUTtv and HARD on PrideVision from William Craig (former 80.2% owner), while Pink Triangle Press' and Peace Point Entertainment Group's shares will both increase. It was also announced that Shavick will also rename and rebrand OUTtv, upgrade the technology infrastructure, and fill the channel's content with a wider variety of programming. Shavick's Hollywood-based partner Regent Studios and the American LGBT channel here! will also become content providers to the channel. No timeline was announced for the expected plans.
In an interview with Xtra!, the company's CEO James Shavick noted that audience surveys have found that while many LGBT viewers in Canada subscribe to the network out of a desire to financially support a gay television channel, comparatively few believe that the channel currently offers a compelling program schedule. His business partner Joy MacPhail also expressed the desire to expand the channel's reach, noting that here!'s audience surveys have found that up to 30 per cent of that network's subscriber base consists of heterosexual women.
PrideVision had difficulties with cable providers because its adult content was leading cable companies to offer the channel as a premium subscriber service and not as a general entertainment channel. With the re-brand as OUTtv and removal of all adult content, the channel still was dealing with problems with some digital cable providers, most notably, Shaw Communications and its national satellite service Star Choice. Shaw and Star Choice wanted OUTtv to remain a standalone channel with a price of $7 to $9 a month, twelve times higher than any other Category 1 channel. There was also a setback with satellite provider Bell ExpressVu (owned by Bell Canada) as they tried to constrain the distribution of OUTtv compared to other category 1 channels. Both providers at the time controlled up to 70% of Canada's digital cable subscribers.
In August 2005, OUTtv ended their disagreement with Shaw Communications and Bell Canada. Bell ExpressVu, Star Choice and Shaw Cable all agreed on a packaging deal with OUTtv. The new agreement allowed subscribers on these systems to add OUTtv as standalone channel or it can be added with existing channels by subscribing to a new package.
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