Movie Central

Movie Central
Movie Central logo
Launched February 1, 1983
Owned by Corus Entertainment
Country Canada
Broadcast area Western Canada & Territories
Headquarters Toronto, Ontario
Formerly called Superchannel
First Choice-Superchannel
Website Movie Central
Bell TV 320-323 (SD)
841, 842 (HD)
Shaw Direct 621-624 (SD)
283, 297 (HD)
Available on many Canadian cable systems Check local listings, channels may vary
MTS TV 210-213 (SD)
431, 433 (HD)
Optik TV 240-243 (SD)
631, 632 (HD)
SaskTel 200-203 (SD)
501, 503 (HD)

Movie Central (MC) is a Canadian English language Category A premium television service. Movie Central is designated to operate west of the Ontario-Manitoba border, including the territories. Movie Central is owned by Corus Entertainment.

Movie Central is carried by various Canadian cable, IPTV, and satellite television providers in Western Canada including Bell TV, Shaw Direct, Shaw, Access Communications, TELUS TV, Westman Communications Group and more. It is the equivalent of The Movie Network (TMN), which is marketed to eastern Canada.


Channels and content

Movie Central consists of a total of six multiplex channels: four standard definition and two high definition channels. MC operates as a separate service with a separate license then its sister network, Encore Avenue, although often Encore Avenue is sold together in a package with Movie Central.

  • Movie Central: The main "flagship" channel that offers films, documentaries and TV series including content from the American pay service Showtime, along with Canadian programming.
  • Movie Central 2 - Films and TV series with a focus on action, thriller, horror and comedy genres.
  • Movie Central 3 - Films and TV series with a focus on drama and romance, including independent and foreign films.
  • HBO Canada - Primarily original programming sourced from American premium service HBO.
  • HBO Canada HD: A high definition simulcast of HBO Canada.
  • Movie Central 1 & 2 HD: Two high definition channel feeds, alternating between simulcasts of the three Movie Central-branded multiplex channels.
  • Movie Central On Demand: a video on demand service delivering content from Movie Central and its multiplex channels.
  • HBO Canada On Demand: a video on demand service delivering content from American premium service HBO.
Broadcast area (in gray) for Movie Central

Movie Central offers an extensive variety of first-run films and television series, most of which come from the American services HBO and Showtime, as well as critically acclaimed original Canadian series as well, most of which are co-produced in partnership with The Movie Network. Selected time block branded Metro, airs independent, short, festival, foreign, and subtitled films, documentaries and original programming.

Films air on Movie Central approximately 10-12 months after they were in theatres, three-to-six months after pay-per-view and over 1½ years before regular television. Sports coverage is permitted, but in such limited amounts that it is rarely seen, in contrast to HBO and Showtime.

In December 2004, Movie Central launched its first high definition channel called Movie Central HD which delivers simulcasted content from Movie Centrals various multiplex channels excluding EA and EA2. In 2006 MC launched its second HD service called Movie Central 2 HD which delivered an alternative schedule of HD content from Movie Central HD.

On September 22, 2008, The Movie Network and Movie Central announced they would jointly begin offering a dedicated HBO multiplex channel, HBO Canada, on October 30.

Former Movie Central logo

Movie Central introduced a video on demand service; Movie Central On Demand, to digital cable subscribers. Content includes films and television series from Movie Central and its four multiplex channels excluding the two Encore Avenue channels.

Noted series

HBO Canada

Logo of HBO Canada.

On September 22, 2008, both The Movie Network and Movie Central announced they would jointly begin offering a dedicated HBO multiplex channel (in both standard definition and high definition formats), called HBO Canada, on October 30. For Movie Central subscribers, HBO Canada replaced Movie Central 4 and Movie Central 1 HD. For TMN subscribers, HBO Canada replaced MMore and MMore HD. The channel remains available at no additional charge to TMN / Movie Central subscribers and, moreover, is not available on a stand-alone basis.

The channel focuses on programming from the U.S. premium service Home Box Office, including several HBO series, specials and sporting events not previously available in Canada; however, some programs that have aired on HBO Canada have aired in the United States on HBO's rival Showtime. A selection of Canadian films and series also airs to satisfy Canadian content requirements.[1] HBO programming eventually airs solely on HBO Canada, as opposed to any of the other TMN / Movie Central multiplex channels.

The HBO Canada schedule is common to both services, with the exception of Eastern (TMN) / Mountain (MC) timeshifting. Although essentially operating as a joint venture of Corus and TMN's parent company Astral Media, the east and west feeds are technically separate channels wholly owned by the parent company of the applicable regional service. In any event, HBO/Time Warner is not a shareholder. and only licenses the name to Corus and Astral. Unlike the other multiplex channels offered by MC and TMN, both the standard-definition and high-definition HBO Canada feeds (East/West) are available nationally to those television providers who wish to carry them.


In 1982, the CRTC licensed Canada's first national pay television services. The commission licensed one national general-interest service – First Choice – as well as a number of short-lived niche channels, and several regional general-interest channels.

Allarcom Pay Television, owned by Charles Allard, was initially granted the regional concession for Alberta. However, by the time Allarcom's service, Superchannel, launched on February 1, 1983, Allarcom had apparently also gained control of a second regional channel, Ontario Independent Pay Television.[2]

Early version of the Superchannel logo, a later version of the logo showed the words 'First Choice' in the star.

By January 1984, Superchannel had received approval to extend its signal to Saskatchewan (replacing Teletheatre, a province-wide pay-cable network that had been operating since the late 1970s), Manitoba, and what is now the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. [1] Allarcom also took control of Aim Satellite Broadcasting (British Columbia and Yukon) and provided the Superchannel signal in those markets on an "interim" basis while Aim could establish its own service. [2]

By the spring of 1984, it became clear that the remaining pay operators were continuing to post substantial losses. In August, AIM and OIPT were merged into Allarcom's operations, and the resulting channel exited the Ontario market. Meanwhile, the formerly national service First Choice agreed to serve only Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. [3] As part of their agreement, Allarcom and First Choice agreed to jointly market their services under the name First Choice Superchannel, in which the Superchannel "star" branding was predominant. This practice continued until 1989, at which point the "First Choice" name remained in the east and "Superchannel" was restricted to the west.

With the introduction of TSN and MuchMusic in September 1984, Superchannel converted to a predominantly movie-based service, as did First Choice.

Allarcom was later acquired by Western International Communications, which launched a parallel classic-movie service, MovieMax!, in the Superchannel service area in 1994. Originally featuring movies from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, the channel later expanded to earlier movies (its licence actually allows the channel to air movies that are older than five years). When digital cable and satellite TV became available, Superchannel 2 and 3 were introduced (which were Superchannel 1 on two and four hour delays, respectively), plus MovieMax! 2 on satellite only (a two hour delay of MovieMax!). During the WIC years, there was a noticeable difference in quality between the WIC services and their eastern counterparts, due largely to a 1996 lawsuit against HBO for allegedly promoting the grey-market availability of U.S.-based satellite television providers. WIC was at the time also a significant shareholder in Bell TV. In retaliation HBO refused to licence any of its programmes to Superchannel. [4]

The duelling takeover bids for, and eventual split of, WIC resulted in Superchannel and MovieMax! being transferred to Corus Entertainment, which settled the HBO lawsuit and began to licence programmes such as The Sopranos. On April 1, 2001, Superchannel and MovieMax! were rebranded under the umbrella brand Movie Central, which consisted of six diverse channels: Movie Central, Adrenaline Drive (Action), Heartland Road (romance films), Shadow Lane (horror/suspense films), Encore Avenue (classic movies), and Comic Strip (comedy films). On March 1, 2006, the sub-brands were dropped (as customers did not understanding their meanings and found the names confusing), changing into four channels called Movie Central, and two channels called Encore Avenue, each of which are still diverse in their schedules. On the Encore Avenue stations, the films that are aired are now only from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, possibly due to the introduction of Turner Classic Movies in Canada.

Duopoly issue

For many years, the de facto pair of regional monopolies of Movie Central and The Movie Network has been subject to criticism. At the time, no other similar premium services broadcasted within Canada. Critics argued that this limits competition and consumer choice, while proponents say there is very little in content or functionality that it is not already offered by the existing services.

In July 2005, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the Canadian federal broadcast regulator, announced that public hearings would begin on October 24, 2005 on four broadcast group applications for new national pay TV licences. Each applicant said they would commit towards the creation of more Canadian program content.

On May 18, 2006, it was announced that the Allarco Entertainment application was accepted, while the other three were rejected. [5] This approved application effectively ended Movie Central/The Movie Network duopoly in Canada. While on November 2, 2007, the new service launched as Super Channel.


  1. ^ Astral/Corus press release, September 22, 2008.
  2. ^ "The Launch of SUPERCHANNEL", YouTube video, retrieved December 15, 2007. The video shows distinct feeds for "ONT Program" and "ALTA Program" launching at different times.

External links

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