Why Canadian won’t air Oprah TV yet

By benim
In World Entertainment
Dec 22nd, 2010

Canadians hoping to tune into the Oprah Winfrey Network each day will have to wait for two months after its American debut Jan. 1.

Viva, the Corus Entertainment-owned channel that OWN is replacing March 1, will air Sunday previews starting next month. However, the full-time delay is partly due to the conditions of the license Oprah’s channel will be taking over.

During those weeks, programming on OWN will be monitored to figure out exactly which university correspondence courses it can be tied to.

OWN is required to live up to promises made when Canadian Learning Television was approved by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission in 1996. While the channel was relaunched as Viva after its sale by CTV to Corus in 2008, the programs are required to have an educational purpose, however tenuous they might be.

For example, broadcasts of “The West Wing” on Viva have been presented as part of a University of Alberta course, Introduction to U.S. Politics and Government.

Reruns of other American dramas, like “Judging Amy” and “Medium,” are assigned in a correspondence course from Athabasca University on The Television Age.

Courses in nursing theory, criminal investigation, culinary arts and investigative health practices are all allegedly accentuated by watching specific shows, too.

And, when all else fails, the shows are rationalized as part of a broadcasting-related course, from story development to video production techniques.

A full list of the educational purposes of Viva programming is provided here.

If these efforts seem unnecessarily ridiculous, consider that the CRTC has been clamping down on media companies violating the terms of their lucrative specialty channel licenses, even if the packaging has changed.

MTV Canada was recently questioned about whether “Jersey Shore” fits the license granted in 1996 to owner CTV, whose channel designed for interactive conversations with young viewers was relaunched in 2006, primarily as an outlet for American reality shows.

Last month, an application by CTV to de-emphasize MuchMusic’s music programming, on the grounds that videos are now more accessible online, was turned down by the regulator.

Therefore, for Corus to flip from Viva to Oprah, it will spend two months calculating how OWN programming can fit with the original Canadian Learning Television license.

Shows starring Rosie O’Donnell, Shania Twain and Sarah, Duchess of York might then be assigned as optional viewing toward a correspondence course credit, in advance of the fall 2011 premiere of “Oprah’s Next Chapter.”

Fortuitously, one of the shows picked up for OWN already airs on Viva, the Vancouver-produced “Anna & Kristina’s Grocery Bag.”

Not only does the show teach viewers how to be handy in the kitchen, it’s also part of the Ryerson University course Writing For Factual Programs, which wasn’t actually offered to students this year.

– Canadian

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