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Bring Hal Roach Library Back To TCM Canada!


TCMTbone
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I am a Laurel and Hardy/Hal Roach fan from Canada. I've noticed that since about 2008, almost all of the Hal Roach Film Catalog is being blocked from TCM's Canadian feed!

As a result of this, there are many Canadian Laurel & Hardy/ Hal Roach fans that are being denied a golden opportunity to view these films, as NOBODY else in Canada is broadcasting these (With the exception of the Laurel & Hardy Laughtoons!). The Little Rascals/Our Gang aren't even shown on Canadian Stations anymore, never mind any of the Charley Chase; Pitts/Todd/Kelly; or other Hal Roach Series!


What I would like to know is what the reason/s are for the continued blocking of Hal Roach material from TCM Canada (Broadcast Rights issues, etc.), and is there something I could do to help bring about a positive change (IE. Petition our CRTC if it is because of some nominal broadcast fee they refuse to pay TCM for the right to broadcast the Hal Roach Films!)?


By the way, I no longer get TCM, as my current provider doesn't offer it! I do however, feel very strongly that, by being denied access to the Hal Roach library for whatever reason, Canadians are being cheated out of some great entertainment, and I for one would like to see that change, if there is any possibility of that!


Anthony (Tony) Bensley

Edited by: TCMTbone on Apr 21, 2013 12:55 PM
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The owners of the Hal Roach library only have the U. S. broadcast rights to those films. Thus TCM only has the right to air them in the United States.

 

This issue came up at a TCM Staff discussion at the very first TCM Classic Film Festival when an attendee from Canada asked if he was ever going to be able to see *Topper Takes A Trip* on his home television. He was told that the channel has spent a considerable amount of time, energy and resources trying to track down who controls the Canadian television rights to the Hal Roach Library. All to no avail. No one knows.

 

And without a valid and legal contract to show the Hal Roach shorts and feature films in Canada, TCM has no choice but to preempt them from the Canadian feed.

 

TCM is apologetic and sympathetic. It hates having to remove films from the Canadian line-up for any reason -- especially films as iconic, important and beloved as the Hal Roach films.

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Thank you very much for your kind reply, hlywdkjk!

 

I've done a bit of online investigating. It is my opinion that the following information (Courtesy of Wikipedia) may be relevant to our current Canada based dilemma, regarding the Hal Roach Library:

 

The following is from the wikipedia page for Hal Roach:

 

 

Most of the film library was bought in 1971 by a Canadian company that adopted the "Hal Roach Studios" name. It primarily handled the business of keeping the library in the public eye and licensing products based upon the classic film series.

 

 

In 1983, Hal Roach Studios was one of the first studios to venture into the controversial business of film colorization, creating digitally colored versions of several Laurel and Hardy features, the Frank Capra film, It's a Wonderful Life, Night of the Living Dead, and other popular films. In the 1980s, Hal Roach Studios produced Kids Incorporated in association with old business partner MGM. During the 1980s, Hal Roach Studios distributed its classic film library, as well as films in the public domain, on home video. From 1988 to 1990, while producing Kids Incorporated, Hal Roach Studios was known as Qintex.

 

 

In the years that followed, the Roach company changed hands several more times. Independent television producer Robert Halmi bought the company in the early 1990s, and it became RHI Entertainment. A short time later, this successor company was acquired by Hallmark Entertainment in 1994, but Halmi, Robert Halmi Jr. and affiliates of Kelso & Company reacquired the company in 2006. Hallmark Entertainment was absorbed into RHI Entertainment (with Vivendi as the current home video output partner).

 

 

In that same decade, a new incarnation of Hal Roach Studios (operated by the Roach Trust) was established, and today this new version of the company has released classic films on DVD, many of which are from Roach's own archival prints of his films, while others are public domain titles mastered from the best available 35 mm elements.

 

 

The following is from the wikipedia page for Qintex, Ltd:

 

 

Qintex Ltd. was an Australian company that came to prominence during the 1980s, until its collapse in 1989. Its main shareholder and Managing Director was Christopher Skase.

 

 

At its peak, Qintex owned interests in the Australian Television Network (Channel 7), Mirage Resorts, Hardy Bros. jewellery retail concern and a number of other businesses.

 

 

My fear is, we (Canadian Viewers) might be faced with a Catch 22 situation. I recall reading somewhere an article about a show that will probably never see light of day due to the fact that the sole rights holder went bankrupt without the said rights ever changing hands. Apparently, a bankrupt company can still technically hold rights to a title. Unfortunately, it is rather impossible for anyone to acquire rights from such a company!

 

 

Perhaps, the problem might be that, while U.S. rights were acquired by Robert Halmi (Who formed RHI Entertainment soon after!), maybe there was no change of hands regarding the Canadian rights. This would explain why TCM's {font:Arial}“considerable amount of time, energy and resources trying to track down who controls the Canadian television rights to the Hal Roach Library” proved unsuccessful!{font}

 

 

Assuming that all of the above is true (I honestly hope not!), then I'm afraid we Canadians are doomed to forever being deprived from TV broadcasts of the Hal Roach Library! If anyone has information that even suggests the contrary, I would sure love to have any relevant information brought to my attention! Any prospect of ever resolving this issue might depend on it!

 

 

CHEERS!

 

 

Anthony (Tony) Bensley

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That does sound like a good idea, darkblue! Based on TCM's lack of success in terms of finding the supposed Canadian rights holder of the Hal Roach Library, a proactive approach would seem to be the best solution. If nothing else, TCM might finally get the answer as to who in Canada (If Anyone!) owns the broadcast rights to these films! What comes to my mind however, is perhaps this might run afoul of their station's policy, or perhaps they've been burned by taking such an approach in the past.

 

I have a feeling that somewhere along the line, the Canadian Broadcast/Release rights somehow didn't get passed down, possibly when Qintex went bankrupt in 1989. In my opinion, this would also explain why everything RHI (Now Sonar Entertainment) has the rights to is NOT available for sale in Canada, in addition to the Canadian broadcast rights issues! Other than TCM Archive's THE DEVIL'S BROTHER/BONNIE SCOTLAND; MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS, and Public Domain titles, NOTHING else from the Hal Roach Library is available for sale in Canada, except by means of internet commerce! In my opinion, if there is an existing company (As opposed to a company that is defunct, but still technically holds the rights!) that holds the Canadian rights, I should think they wouldn't be that difficult to locate!

 

 

I don't know what approach TCM used in their attempt to secure Canadian broadcast rights to the Hal Roach Films. Going on the assumption that TCM won't broadcast these through their Canadian feed without first securing the rights, my suggestion would be for them to start from the current U.S. Hal Roach Library's rights holders (Sonar Entertainment) and work their way backward (Through RHI; Hallmark; RHI; Qintex; the Canadian Hal Roach Studios company.), if this is possible. The answer as to who, or even if anyone at all holds the Canadian Broadcast Rights to these wonderful films may just lie in that company chain! This Canadian rights gridlock has gone on far too long, as far as I'm concerned, and it is my hope that somebody who has the ability to effect a change reads this thread!

 

 

CHEERS! (And Let's Bring The Hal Roach Library Back To TCM Canada!)

 

 

Anthony (Tony) Bensley

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I've stepped it up a notch and sent a letter to TCM Host Robert Osborne in regards to their issue with being unable to locate the Canadian Rights Holder to the bulk of the Hal Roach Library. In the letter, I put forth the possibility that the reason TCM's prior attempt to locate the Canadian Rights Holder failed could be because the Canadian Rights aren't currently being held by anyone! I also suggested that perhaps a backwards search of previous Rights Holders (Which I outlined in the letter!) to the Hal Roach Catalogue just might reveal the answer to that heretofore elusive question of who (If anyone!) holds Canadian Broadcast rights to the Hal Roach Films.



It is my hope that my above suggestions will ultimately lead to Turner Classic Movies finally being able to lift the heretofore necessary blocking of these wonderful films from their Canadian Feed, so that they might be enjoyed by present and future generations of Canadians!



CHEERS! (And Let's Bring The Hal Roach Library Back To TCM Canada!)



Anthony (Tony) Bensley
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{font:Arial}Since I sent my letter to TCM Host Robert Osborne regarding the Canadian Broadcast Rights issues concerning their Hal Roach Film Library, I’ve had the honor and privilege of being in contact with leading Laurel & Hardy Historian/Film Preservationist Richard W. Bann! With Mr. Bann’s kind permission, I’m reprinting the following relevant information which he’s graciously shared with me{font}:

 

Richard W. Bann: “The{font:Arial} rights you asked about for Canada are controlled by Universal the last time I had reason to check, which was when we were producing the Laurel & Hardy DVD for Vivendi (in the Western Hemisphere) a couple years back. {font}{font:Arial}I am surprised that no one at TCM has ever contacted me about exploiting their license in the Hal Roach library. My advice to TCM would be to contact me about sublicensing rights from Universal, and I think my friends at Sonar (Qintex is not Sonar) might help with this, and perhaps our rights holders in the Eastern Hemisphere {font}{font:Arial}might as well."

{font}

 

 

While I plan to send a second letter to TCM Host Robert Osborne regarding this soon, I openly invite anyone at TCM who is in charge of programming, should they read this, to contact me via my TCMTbone account, so that I may furnish for them Richard Bann's contact information for the purpose of setting up a dialogue!

 

 

CHEERS! (And Let's Bring The Hal Roach Library Back To TCM Canada!)

 

 

 

 

 

Anthony (Tony) Bensley

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  • 2 weeks later...

Here is a brief update: I sent a second letter to TCM Host Robert Osborne just over a week ago, in which I highlighted Laurel & Hardy Historian/Film Preservationist Richard W. Bann's willingness to help sort out the Canadian Broadcast Rights issues regarding the Hal Roach Film Catalogue. A TCM Executive simply needs to get in touch with Mr. Bann in order to establish a dialogue with him towards achieving this end!

 

It is my hope and desire that this will occur, so that Canadian TCM Viewers may soon have the same opportunity to see these wonderful films as our American Friends!

 

CHEERS! (And Let's Bring The Hal Roach Library Back To TCM Canada!)

 

Anthony (Tony) Bensley

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Tony,

 

In addition to mailing Robert Osborne, it might be worth sending a letter addressed to the Programming Staff at TCM as they are the ones who Robert O would probably pass the info on to!

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In my effort to look up other TCM contact information in terms of Programming Staff, the only thing I could find is *TCM Viewer Relations*.

 

Does anyone know whether TCM Viewer Relations would be the appropriate branch for sending a letter to, in regards to sorting out Canadian Broadcast rights issues for the Hal Roach Film Library? If so, a reply would be greatly appreciated!

 

CHEERS! (And Let's Bring The Hal Roach Library Back To TCM Canada!)

 

Anthony (Tony) Bensley

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Thanks to a very helpful tip, I've now mailed an appropriate letter to TCM's Programming Staff in regards to sorting out the Canadian Broadcast Rights issues for the bulk of the Hal Roach Library!

 

Please allow me at this time to thank those who have taken time out to assist me with this matter, thus far: Richard W. Bann, leading Laurel & Hardy Historian and Preservationist; and Lynn M. Zook, noted Historian, Preservationist and Film Maker.

 

Now for the next vital step: Somebody at TCM who is in charge of dealing with Broadcast Rights issues needs to get in touch with Mr. Bann, in order to sort out the Canadian Broadcast Rights issues, so that TCM's Hal Roach Film Library might at long last be made accessible to TCM's Canadian Viewers!

 

CHEERS! (And Let's Bring The Hal Roach Library Back To TCM Canada!)

 

Anthony (Tony) Bensley

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  • 2 weeks later...

Update: As yet, I haven't received any response from TCM regarding this matter, though I'm still hoping that I might soon! I'm posting this message in order to keep this topic on the front page, as I feel very strongly regarding its importance!

 

In the meantime, I do have a humble request: Any fellow Canadian TCM fans that might come across this topic, if you could, in some way show your support for the "Bring The Hal Roach Library Back To TCM Canada," it might aid in its ultimate success! If Turner Classic Movies Staff are made aware that there are a significant number of us Canadians that want to be able to enjoy their Hal Roach Film Library as our fellow American Friends currently get to, they may be that much more apt to take the required initiative to settle the Canadian Broadcast Rights issues, that currently prevent these wonderful films from being broadcast outside of U.S. Borders!

 

There are two ways in which your support can be shown. One is by posting on this thread your desire to have the block lifted for Canadian Broadcasts of the Hal Roach Film Library. The other would be to send a letter to TCM's Programming Staff Department detailing your desire to have the Hal Roach Film Library Brought Back To TCM Canada. I've hopefully, made this task a little bit easier by preparing the following appropriate template myself:

 

*Turner Classic Movies*

*1050 Techwood Drive NW*

*Atlanta, GA 30318*

 

*Attention: Programming Staff*

 

 

*Re: Bring The Hal Roach Library Back To TCM Canada!*

 

 

*As a Canadian fan of Turner Classic Movies, I am appealing to your station to take up leading Laurel & Hardy Historian/Preservationist Richard W. Bann’s kind offer to help you sort out the Canadian Broadcast rights issues, which currently prevents your station from airing the bulk of your Hal Roach Film Library within our borders! All that’s required to get the ball rolling on this is for one of your staff to contact Mr. Bann regarding this issue!*

 

 

*While it is my understanding that the Laurel & Hardy Forum Member of the Year, Anthony (Tony) Bensley has furnished you with Richard W. Bann’s contact information by way of mail correspondence, he has additionally chosen to provide you with his email address, in the unlikely event Mr. Bann’s contact information has failed to reach your department! Below is Mr. Bensley’s email information:*

 

 

 

*{font:Verdana}[yelsnebynot@hotmail.com|http://forums.tcm.com/post!reply.jspa?messageID=8757026]{font}*{font:Arial}{font}

 

 

 

 

I thank your department in advance, for your kind attention to this matter!

 

 

*Sincerely,*

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly, for those who wish to obtain a Microsoft Word document of the above template via email, please feel free to contact me at my above email address!

 

 

 

CHEERS! (And Let's Bring The Hal Roach Library Back To TCM Canada!)

 

Anthony (Tony) Bensley

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  • 4 weeks later...

 

A little while back, I told myself that I wouldn't go into my thread until its total number of views exceeded 1000, which I noticed it had as of this morning. The purpose of this was that would indicate to me people were still actually viewing it after I made my last post a few weeks back.

 

However, as I haven't received any hotmail messages, I unfortunately have no idea as to whether how many thread viewers (If any!) have actually copied and pasted my template to send to the TCM Programming Staff.

 

Please know that I greatly appreciate those who have taken an interest in the "Bring The Hal Roach Library Back To Canada" effort! I would love to hear from those who sent letters (Again, if any!) as that would be an indicator to me as to the level of interest in this matter!

 

CHEERS! {font:arial, helvetica, sans-serif}(And Let's Bring The Hal Roach Library Back To TCM Canada!){font}

 

Anthony (Tony) Bensley

 

 

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