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APTN launches high definition channel

Amanda Vaughan
Northern News Services
Published Monday, April 28, 2008

YELLOWKNIFE - The CEO of the Aboriginal People's Television Network has made it clear that he's not interested in letting the North lag behind in the channel's new technological advances.

"We value the North as much as we value the South," said Jean LaRose in an interview with News/North.

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APTN CEO Jean LaRose recently announced the launch of a high definition version of APTN, including their Northern feed. The broadcasting company feels the North is receptive to new technology such as HD. - photo courtesy of APTN

LaRose was speaking about the aboriginal focused channel's recent decision to roll out a high definition (HD) channel as well as their standard definition channel.

The broadcaster's Northern feed is running in HD already, just like their southern programming, which is something the company was excited to offer.

"Quite often in the south, little thought is given to the North," LaRose said, adding, "we wanted to make sure what we can offer our audiences in the south is no more than what we can offer in the North."

He pointed out a very important factor in their decision. The CRTC has mandated by 2011, the whole broadcasting industry in Canada must move to digital and HD signals. There are a few provisions in the North for delays to allow for the difficulty of infrastructure changes here, but APTN wanted to get ahead of the game to offer the service.

For those who are still tuning in with their rabbit ears, there is nothing to worry about. The APTN Northern feed will still be running in its current form. But the HD channel will be available to those who want to give it a shot.

LaRose said the broadcasting company did extensive surveys across the North, and discovered people up here are just as interested in HDTV as their southern cousins, and many have already made the switch.

Administrative assistant in the Norman Wells town office Judy Sheppard agrees.

"People definitely have HDTVs here. I think they would appreciate seeing APTN in high definition," she said.

"The level of acceptance of HD and the interest in moving up to HD was in the same proportions as down south," LaRose said.

He said in addition to the viewers upgrading their entertainment systems, the HD channel will also allow Northern producers to get into new technology.

"It will give Northern producers the opportunity to be state of the art," he said.

Even the regular feeds are going to get a boost in the territories, he said. Aside from the HD launch, APTN is working on removing all their aging transmitters and distributing their standard definition channel through satellite and cable free of charge in all remote communities.

"By next summer, every home in the North will either be cabled or have a satellite feed," he said.

APTN's HD channel can be viewed on Bell Express Vu on channel 808. LaRose said the HD channel will run the same programming as the standard definition channel.

The CRTC would have required APTN to apply for a completely separate licence in order to run different shows.