Voices is a proposed new multi-language, multi-ethnic television service. It's unlike anything that's ever been offered in Canada, although places like India have used a similar approach for years.
Voices will deliver multi-ethnic programming in ten languages, through simultaneous translation, for 55 hours a week. The languages will be chosen based on what the data tells us are the ten most-spoken third languages in Canadian homes. The number of languages carried on Voices will grow to 25 by the end of the third year.
The proposal to license Voices is before the CRTC – the body that regulates broadcasting on behalf of the Canadian public – right now. We expect their decision by the summer of 2019.
If Voices is granted a license, it will be mandatory-carry. That means every cable and satellite company in Canada will automatically carry it.
Voices is a new service, but it will be delivered using existing technology. (In fact, CBC uses the same technology to broadcast Hockey Night in Canada in Punjabi, for example.)
The license that Voices is applying for is currently held by Omni, owned by Rogers. Voices is proposing a service that's far above what Omni offers.
Omni offers third-language programming, but only one language at a time. Also, Omni offers better scheduling (i.e., prime time) to some languages, while very little time – and less prominent placement – to others.
Unlike Omni, which only offers programming in one language at a time, Voices is proposing to deliver simultaneous translation of our programming in ten languages in our first year of operation. That number will rise to 25 by the end of the third year.
You may not have heard of us, but you've seen our work. We are the largest distributor of ethnic television in Canada, at over 80 channels. We supply the ethnic programming currently offered by operators like Bell, Rogers and Shaw, as well as operators around the world.
We're a company of entrepreneurs and innovators with a proven track record – and we know ethnic television. We understand what a key role home-language programming plays in the lives of new Canadians as they adjust to life in Canada and set down roots here. It is a huge audience (currently one in five television viewers in Canada is foreign-born – that's equivalent to the population of Quebec) and it is currently underserved. Voices will change that.
As a must-carry service, Voices will be offered as part of your basic package at no extra cost. (Prices of basic packages vary by provider.)