A specialty channel can be a commercial broadcasting or non-commercial television channel which consists of television programming focused on a single genre, subject or targeted television market at a specific demographic.
The number of specialty channels has greatly increased during the 1990s and 2000s while the previously common model of countries having just a few (national) TV stations addressing all interest groups and demographics became increasingly outmoded, as it already had been for some time in several countries. About 65% of today's satellite channels are specialty channels.
Types of specialty services may include, but by no means are limited to:
(These categories are provided for convenience and do not necessarily represent industry-accepted or otherwise legally-binding names or categories for these types of services.)
Some specialty channels may not be free-to-air or may not be available through conventional broadcast or terrestrial television. In the United States, such networks are colloquially referred to as cable channels or cable networks (regardless of distribution method), with the most widely distributed referred to as "basic cable" networks.In the U.S., specialty services also operate as broadcast television networks designed to be carried on digital subchannels of terrestrial stations (which proliferated following the transition from analog broadcasting), with the largest usually focusing on library programming catering to specific genres or demographics.
The term "specialty channel" has been used most frequently in Canada, having been used as a marketing term by the cable industry for various simultaneous launches of new channels throughout the 1990s. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) term for such a channel is specialty service (or even more explicitly "specialty television programming undertaking"), referring to virtually any non-premium television service which is not carried over the airwaves or otherwise deemed exempt by the CRTC. They are primarily carried, therefore, on cable television and satellite television.
The CRTC previously enforced strict regulations on the types of programming that may be carried by specialty services, employing minimums and restrictions across specific genres on a per-licence basis, and a category system granting exclusive rights to specific categories of channels. These restrictions were imposed to discourage networks from deviating from the programming format which they were licensed to broadcast. Under a deregulation scheme, the CRTC has since replaced these with streamlined, standard terms for most specialty channels (discretionary services), whose only major restrictions are on the broadcast of live sports programming. Contrarily, a service licensed as a mainstream sports network is restricted in their carriage of non-sport programming.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is a public organization in Canada with mandate as a regulatory agency for broadcasting and telecommunications. It was created in 1976 when it took over responsibility for regulating telecommunication carriers. Prior to 1976, it was known as the Canadian Radio and Television Commission, which was established in 1968 by the Parliament of Canada to replace the Board of Broadcast Governors. Its headquarters is located in the Central Building of Les Terrasses de la Chaudière in Gatineau, Quebec.
The media of Canada is diverse and highly regionalized. News media, both print and digital and in both official languages, is largely dominated by a handful of major media corporations. The largest of these corporations is the country’s national public broadcaster, CBC/Radio-Canada, who also plays a significant role in producing domestic cultural content, operating radio and TV networks in both English and French.
CTV 2 Atlantic is a Canadian cable television channel serving Atlantic Canada owned by Bell Media, with its studios located in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Owned by the Bell Media subsidiary of BCE Inc., it operates as a de facto owned-and-operated station of its secondary CTV 2 television system.
Pay television also known as subscription television or premium television, refers to subscription-based television services, usually provided by multichannel television providers, but also increasingly via digital terrestrial, and streaming television. In the United States, subscription television began in the late 1970s and early 1980s in the form of encrypted analog over-the-air broadcast television which could be decrypted with special equipment. The concept rapidly expanded through the multi-channel transition and into the post-network era. Other parts of the world beyond the United States, such as France and Latin America have also offered encrypted analog terrestrial signals available for subscription.
In cable television, governments apply a must-carry regulation stating that locally licensed television stations must be carried on a cable provider's system.
VisionTV is a Canadian English language Category A specialty channel that broadcasts multi-faith, multicultural, and general entertainment programming aimed at the 45 and over demographic.
Television in Canada officially began with the sign-on of the nation's first television stations in Montreal and Toronto in 1952. As with most media in Canada, the television industry, and the television programming available in that country, are strongly influenced by media in the United States, perhaps to an extent not seen in any other major industrialized nation. As a result, the government institutes quotas for "Canadian content". Nonetheless, new content is often aimed at a broader North American audience, although the similarities may be less pronounced in the predominantly French-language province of Quebec.
The Israeli Network is a Canadian exempt Category B Hebrew language specialty channel. It is wholly owned by Ethnic Channels Group, with its name used under license from the owners of the Israeli-based TV channel, The Israeli Network.
SBTN which stands for Saigon Broadcasting Television Network is a Canadian exempt Category B Vietnamese language specialty channel and is owned by Ethnic Channels Group. It broadcasts programming from Saigon Broadcasting Television Network (SBTN) and local Canadian content.
Canada is served by various multichannel television services, including cable television systems, two direct-broadcast satellite providers, and various other wireline IPTV and wireless MMDS video providers.
CTV 2 Alberta is a Canadian English language entertainment and former educational television channel in the province of Alberta. Owned by the Bell Media subsidiary of BCE Inc., it operates as a de facto owned-and-operated station of its secondary CTV 2 television system.
TSN2 is a Canadian pay television channel that acts as the secondary feed of sports-centred channel The Sports Network (TSN) and owned by CTV Specialty Television Inc. It was launched in its current form on August 29, 2008.
Cosmopolitan TV is a defunct Canadian English language specialty television channel.
The Cult Movie Network is a Canadian English language exempt Category B specialty channel consisting of programming devoted to cult films from a variety of genres including horror, fantasy, comedy, and action, among others. The channel is owned by the Cult Movie Channel Inc., a company owned by Dieter Kohler.
FX is a Canadian English-language discretionary service channel owned as a partnership between Rogers Sports & Media, a division of Rogers Communications, and the FX Networks subsidiary of Walt Disney Television. Based on the U.S. cable network of the same name, FX is devoted primarily to scripted dramas and comedies.
A Category C service is the former term for a Canadian discretionary specialty channel which, as defined by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, provides a national news or mainstream sports service. This designation applies to specialty services which operate under the "conditions of license for competitive Canadian specialty services operating in the genres of mainstream sports and national news".
A multichannel television service, also known as simply a television provider, is a type of service provider who distributes television programming to its customers for a subscription fee. Subscription television providers distribute television channels that offer different types of programming, typically including local television stations within their market, specialty channels that are distributed solely through multichannel television providers, and pay television services that offer premium content such as feature films and other original programming.
Sportsnet PPV is a Canadian pay-per-view (PPV) service owned by Rogers Communications. It is the PPV service used by Rogers Cable, Cogeco Cable and Source Cable for offering out-of-market sports packages and occasionally other special events. Since October 1, 2014, Rogers and Source have also used Sportsnet PPV as their main general-interest pay-per-view provider, replacing Viewers Choice which shut down the previous evening. The service is co-branded with Rogers' sports channel Sportsnet.
A 9(1)(h) order is an order issued by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) pursuant to section 9(1)(h) of Canada's Broadcasting Act. It requires that a particular Canadian television channel be distributed by all cable, satellite, IPTV, or similar subscription-based television service providers in Canada. In most cases, the order requires that the channel be included in the analogue and/or digital basic service, making it available to all subscribers of that TV service provider. A channel subject to such an order, particularly those subject to mandatory carriage on the basic service, is sometimes known as an 9(1)(h) service.
AMI-télé is a Canadian, French-language digital cable specialty channel owned by the non-profit organization Accessible Media Inc. (AMI). AMI-télé is a French version of AMI's English-language service AMI-tv, and broadcasts a selection of general entertainment programming with accommodations for those who are visually or hearing impaired, consisting of described video on the primary audio track and closed captioning available across all of its programming. The channel also broadcasts series on accessibility- and disability-related topics.