is a direct broadcast satellite television
distributor in Canada which is majority-owned by cable TV
operator Shaw Communications
Inc. As of 2008, Star Choice had over 870,000 subscribers. It broadcasts on Ku band
from two communications satellites
, Anik F1R
at 107.3°W and Anik F2 at 111.1°W; these satellites are owned by Telesat Canada
and otherwise are used primarily to distribute programming to various Canadian cable TV companies.
A full list of channels carried by these two satellites is available from satellite-related sites such as Lyngsat: Anik F1 Anik F2 Anik F1 carries most mainstream English-language programming; Anik F2 programming includes French-language and HDTV broadcasts.
Star Choice began in Lincoln, New Brunswick, but is now based in Calgary, Alberta. It also has an operations centre in Mississauga, Ontario and its call centres in Montreal, Calgary and Mississauga.
- August 1996: Awarded broadcasting licence.
- March 1997: Opened first customer care centre.
- March 1997: Activated their first customer, who purchased a receiver for $999 with 100 digital channels when he purchased $400 worth of programming.
- September 1997: Added Pay Per View to their lineup.
- September 1999: Added 60 new channels to their lineup.
- January 2000: Launched HDTV programming with the broadcast of Super Bowl XXXIV, the first High Definition TV broadcast in Canada.
- August 2000: Privatized by Shaw Communications Inc. through its acquisition of Cancom.
- April 2001: Activated both Anik F1 and Anik E2 satellites, becoming the first Canadian provider to broadcast services from two satellites simultaneously.
- March 2002: Moved its head office from Lincoln, New Brunswick to Calgary, Alberta.
- May 2002: Sold its one millionth receiver.
- August 2003: Launched its first fully integrated High Definition receiver, the Motorola DSR500 HD.
- February 2004: Added 18 additional channels including 2 high-definition ones.
- July 2004: Announced the expansion of new channels as a result of the launch of the Anik F2 satellite.
- May 2005: Launched the dual tuner High Definition Digital Video Recorder.
- Nov 2005: TCM (Turner Classic Movies) is introduced to the Canadian market for the first time.
- Sep 2006: AMC (American Movie Classics) is introduced to the Canadian market for the first time.
- Oct 2006: A&E HD, Discovery HD and SRC HD (Montréal) launch on October 12, 2006. Super Écran HD launches October 30 2006.
- Dec 2006: Showcase HD and National Geographic HD launch on December 19, 2006 bringing the total amount of free HD channels to 17.
- Jan 2007: Launched the DSR317 receiver, featuring a faster processor than previous Standard Definition receivers, and picture-in-guide. Superstation WGN was swapped for the local Chicago feed on January 17, 2007.
- Feb 2007: Launched the DSR207 receiver, featuring a faster processor than previous Standard Definition receivers, and picture-in-guide.
- Mar 2007: Star Choice announces the addition of GOL-TV, World Fishing Network, WGN-HD and HDNet.
- Mar 2007: Star Choice celebrates it's 10 Year Anniversary
- Jun 2007: Séries+ HD and Canal Vie HD launch on May 31 2007. MuchMusic and TLN move to essentials and PunchMuch is removed. Casino and Gaming Television was added on June 5 2007 to the essentials package.
- Jul/Aug 2007: A new interactive program guide was deployed to all DSR505's and DVR530's. The new interactive program guide introudced new features such as instant on capability (Guide will load within 3 minutes after power failure), support for Open TV and support for 8PSK modulation.
- Sep 2007: PPV HD, MMore HD, Movie Central HD2, Canal Z, ABC West HD were added to the line-up
- Oct 2007: Added NHL Centre Ice package to the line-up
- Dec 2007: Teletoon Retro was added to the line-up. Viewer's Choice and Canal Indigo PPV was dropped in favour of Shaw PPV
- Feb 2008: Speed Channel HD, Nascar Hot Pass and Wild TV was added to the line-up
- Sep 2008: TSN2 and TSN2 HD was added to the line-up
The system requires an elliptical antenna of at least 45x60cm in size with a special LNB pair built as one unit to accommodate the narrow 3.8° spacing between satellites; the receiver uses the Motorola-proprietary Digicipher II system which has so far been virtually free of the problems with pirate decryption that have plagued other providers such as rival Bell TV. The standard 18" DBS antennas used by other providers are not compatible with this system as the signals differ in both frequency and polarization, due to Star Choice being relayed via FSS satellites, Anik F1 and F2 in this case.
Services and pricing
Star Choice currently features over 400 channels including all major Canadian & American networks, popular specialty services, PPV, sports packages and over 30 High Definition channels. Key services include:
The monthly packages range from $20 for the basic service, up to $89.99 for specialty and movie channels. Individual premium and specialty channels can also be purchased. The receivers range from $79 for a basic system to $699 for a high-definition personal video recorder.