Star Choice to offer 100 channels in the fall
Star Choice signs retail distribution agreement with Canadian Tire

NNSL (Aug 25/97) - Canadian Tire has signed an agreement to sell Star Choice satellite television equipment in Canada.

The dish, receiver and remote control will be offered for between $599 and $999, says Guy Skipworth, vice-president of the Star Choice Network.

Customers would then be billed by Star Choice for the service, he explains.

Star Choice launched its direct-to-home television service in Canada this past April. It was licensed by the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission a year ago.

And the company plans to bump up its offering of 93 channels to 100 in the fall.

"We have no (legal) competition in Canada other than cable," says Skipworth.

He says audience viewing research has shown that most people only watch on average 10 channels -- "whether it's 10 available or 70, the number you watch doesn't change much," he says.

The satellite receiving dish is normally a 60-centimetres dish, but Skipworth recommends Northern Canadian viewers opt for the 75-centimetre dish for "a really clear, crisp picture."

The equipment comes with a one-year warranty.

Skipworth says the number of customers already receiving the satellite service has not been released due to competition from cable companies. But he did say there's customers in the NWT, Yukon and every province.

In the North, however, it hasn't caught on as much as other parts of Canada. Skipworth says he hopes that changes with distribution through Canadian Tire, "which gives us a strong profile."

Canadian Tire has 426 stores in Canada.

Some of the new channels to be added in the fall include the Comedy Network (from Toronto), Teletoon (cartoons), the History channel, Space: The Imagination Station, CTV News 1, Outdoor Life, the Home and Garden television and several French services.

The launch date for the new channels was supposed to be Sept. 26, says Skipworth, but that date has been pushed to sometime in October for most of the new channels.

Consumer curiosity and demand are enormous. The Star Choice Customer Care Call Centre receives more than 1,600 calls a day and its web site averages 11,000 hits per day.