12:01 A.M.


      "The Arts will have a new voice in the region when Franklin County-based WKFC begins broadcasting on channel 8 this Sunday," station manager Franz Diefenbaker said in an exclusive interview with this column. Mr. Diefenbaker is the great grandnephew thrice removed of then-Prime Minister John Diefenbaker whose 1958 Broadcasting Act ended the Canadian Broadcasting Company's monopolistic role as regulator and sole Canadian network 1broadcaster. WKFC is the newest member of the CTV television network ("Canada's #1 Network") that also includes CFTO-Toronto and CFCF-Montreal.
      The new station will carry some of Canada's more exotic late-night programming. "We are Canadian where it can be quite cold, eh," Mr. Diefenbaker said, "so we like to think of ourselves as the 'Nudist Channel for people who just think they are naked.'"
      WKFC will also debut an exclusive arts-and-culture High Definition channel with significant local content on Sunday.
      "This is the first major investment in true arts programming in North America," New England Assembly of Arts Executive Director Jules Fedderstone said. The All Arts Council will air a weekly Artist Chat on Thursdays at 9:00 p.m. and Live on Stage showing northern Vermont concerts every Saturday at 9:00. The St. Albans Artists' Guild plans its 2-hour Wednesday Workshops for 8:00 p.m. Each will be led by a well known local artist or sculptor. Messenger columnist Leon Thompson is the lead off writer for the half-hour Writer's Wreview on Mondays at 4:30. The travel show, On the Bus will visit area museums and galleries each Tuesday at 10 p.m.
      "About 60% of the regular broadcast feed is in HD quality now," Mr. Diefenbaker said, "and that entire schedule will be reproduced in HD on Channel 8.1. We will also have about half the schedule on channel 8.2 as locally produced arts programming and that will be in HD quality, too." CTV started broadcasting HDTV (16:9 or wide-screen) programming in 2003. Currently CTV HD East and West have dedicated HDTV feeds; both are available nationally via cable and satellite.
      "Everybody does the weather on the point two feed," he said. "We wanted to try something great."
      The network also has the country's longest-running national morning news show, Canada AM, as well as a weekly newsmagazine series, W-FIVE, that predates its popular CBS rival, 60 Minutes, by two years. A CTV alliance with MTV Networks guarantees the presence of MTV Canada. Their successful programming includes Canadian-made shows such as Due South, Power Play, The Eleventh Hour and Canadian Idol. CTV also regularly produces and airs Canadian-made television movies, typically drawn from Canadian news or Canadian history. They carry some hit American series such as the Sopranos, ER, Law & Order, CSI, and "Lost." CTV owns the Canadian broadcast rights to the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics and the 2012 Summer Olympics.
      "We want to test the American market in an area that is convenient to our Montreal offices," Mr. Diefenbaker said. WKFC will be carried by Comcast on Channel 8 (moving WWBI to a different channel on Comcast) and will also be picked up as a local offering by both Dish and DirecTV satellite service. CTV is investigating national syndication with the cable and satellite carriers.
      The new station, whose call letters indicate its ties in Franklin County, completed its broadcast studio in the Franklin County Airport Industrial Park in Highgate last month. "This is an exciting project," Highgate Town Administrator Larry Kempton said. "We could do it not only because we have plenty of electrical power available from VELCO but also thanks to the new extra high speed Internet connection Governor Douglas is running up the Interstate from Burlington."
      Gov. Douglas calls it the "e-state" initiative, the plan to provide universal access to high-speed broadband internet and wireless cell service across Vermont by 2010. The gigabit passive optical network coming to Highgate will offer residents and businesses nearly unlimited data service, carrier-class quality voice service, and HDTV video.
      "It will also help us get 'Imus in the Morning' more clearly in Highgate," Mr. Kempton said.

      Remember Sunday's date. There may be a gigabit passive optical network coming up I-89 but it will not help us land a CTV studio in Highgate this year. It is, after all, that time again and you have been fooled.

Check the Date

Rest assured that it is (about) April 1
and you have been fooled.


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