iCraveTV.com to offer Canadian programs to U.S.

iCraveTV.com, a Web site that has riled the National Football League by showing games on the Internet, plans to offer Canadian television in the United States as early as next month, chief executive William Craig says.

TORONTO--iCraveTV.com, a Web site that has riled the National Football League by showing games on the Internet, plans to offer Canadian television in the United States as early as next month, chief executive William Craig said.

Craig is betting U.S. laws that regulate the showing of U.S. television over the Internet won't apply if it shows only Canadian programming. A site that shows Canadian programs would attract advertisers, Craig said.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for everyone involved," Craig said. "Canadian programs could be seen in a brand new market."

iCraveTV.com currently relays both U.S. and Canadian signals over the Internet, but asks viewers to certify that they're watching only from within Canada. It carries advertising visible beneath the television picture.

The Internet isn't regulated in Canada, though lawyers for the NFL and trade groups representing Canadian broadcasters and producers have said iCraveTV.com's Web site violates copyright laws in both countries.

They've threatened to sue, but iCraveTV.com hasn't received any legal notices so far, Craig said.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, which regulates the country's electronic media, decided in May that it won't get involved in telling Web sites what they can and can't present, saying it would stifle growth.

Toronto-based iCraveTV.com, a unit of TVRadioNow, will continue to offer Canadian broadcasters copyright fees for transmitting their material from its site, but doesn't require their approval by law, Craig said. "We've looked at the law, and we don't need the broadcasters," Craig said.

iCraveTV.com charges advertisers C$20 (US$13.76) to C$50 for each thousand impressions. Advertisers can appear at the top of the Web site's page, or in an area at the bottom of the tiny television screen.

The Web site was visited about 60 million times in December, Craig said. The site's sponsors include Bank of Montreal, the country's fourth-largest bank, and Honda Motor, among others.

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