Telelatino, also referred to as TLN, is a Canadian Category A Specialty channel broadcasting general interest programming from Canada and around the world, primarily in Italian and Spanish. It also broadcasts English programming up to 25 percent of the time.
TLN began broadcasting in October 1984 and is a privately held company owned by Telelatino Network Inc., a consortium majority owned by Corus Entertainment along with three prominent Italian Canadian families. Telelatino headquarters are in Toronto, Ontario, but the company also operates an office in Montreal, Quebec.
Telelatino is available in almost six million Canadian homes and is carried by all major cable systems and satellite platforms. It is Canada's most watched ethnic specialty channel. TLN operates two time shifted feeds: East (Eastern Time) and West (Pacific Time), the latter is available via Bell Fibe TV and Rogers Cable in Ontario and New Brunswick.
Telelatino's Spanish language foreign programming comes primarily from two broadcasters: Univision and CNN en Español. The Italian language programming is derived primarily from Canale 5, a channel owned by Mediaset- Italy's leading commercial broadcaster. TLN also airs some programming from SKY TG24, a news network in Italy and Video Italia, an Italian music service. English language programming on TLN primarily features characters and stars with an Italian or Hispanic background. Such programming includes The Sopranos, Everybody Loves Raymond, George Lopez and Lopez Tonight.
Telelatino broadcasts a substantial amount of soccer programming, airing Italian Serie A matches every year since 1984 and UEFA Champions League matches involving Italian and Spanish teams from 2002-2009. In 2009, TLN secured the rights to the UEFA Europa League through 2012 becoming the exclusive Canadian broadcaster of this tournament. TLN has also broadcast the last three editions of the Copa América, FIFA World Cup, and UEFA European Football Championship. It was announced in 2006 that TLN has partnered with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) to air matches from various FIFA tournaments, including the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups, as the CBC was recently awarded the broadcast rights to various FIFA tournaments. Additionally, the TLN networks also hold the exclusive Canadian rights to Mexican Primera Division soccer, including games broadcast over the Univision networks in the U.S. In late 2015, TLN began showing games played by the Canadian national team for both 2018 World Cup qualification cycle and 2016 Olympic Qualifying tournament.
TLN is also known to air Spanish-language erotica. Current programming includes Latin Lover from 2:30 am to 3:00 am on Saturdays and Sundays, and Cuentos Prohibidos (Bliss dubbed in Spanish) otherwise from 2:30am to 4:30am Tuesdays to Sundays.
From its inception up until mid-2003, TLN's Italian programming was derived primarily from RAI, Italy's state owned broadcaster, which made a commitment in 1984 to supply programming to Canada through TLN for as long as TLN was licensed in Canada. A dispute arose in 2003 when Massimo Magliaro, a former spokesperson for the leader of Italy's post-fascist Italian Social Movement leader Giorgio Almirante, having been politically appointed as head of RAI's international channel, decided to repudiate RAI's supply obligations as well as its 2001 agreement to launch a 24-hour RAI Canada channel, in favour of challenging Canada's regulatory regime by aggressively attacking Telelatino's quality and service and indicating that it wanted to deliver RAI programming through its own international channel on its own terms without restriction and not through TLN or through any Canadian programming partner. Interestingly, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) followed a much more respectful and cooperative path by launching BBC Canada as a Canadian licensed digital channel with Canadian programming commitments, responsibilities, and majority-ownership.
In 2003, RAI pulled its content from TLN and petitioned the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to allow it to broadcast RAI International in Canada. This effort was backed by Rogers Communications, who sponsored RAI's application to get on the CRTC's approved list. The Committee for Italians Living Abroad in Montreal (COM.IT.ES.), an arm of the Italian foreign ministry, led the campaign to have RAI admitted. The Italian Canadian community itself, however, was divided. Italian law provides the Italian diaspora votes in Italian elections and permanent seats in the Parliament of Italy, and many hopeful participants in such Italian elections in Canada led the campaign to urge the Canadian authorities to admit RAI International as a foreign service. After initially being rejected by the CRTC in 2004 in strong terms, much political wrangling by RAI and certain Italian Canadians ensued, and RAI International was eventually approved by the CRTC in the spring of 2005 and began broadcasting in June 2005. After RAI International was launched in Canada, Telelatino began airing programming from Mediaset, which is controlled by Silvio Berlusconi, who was the Italian Prime Minister at the time of the controversy.
On June 5, 2012, TLN launched TLN HD, a high definition feed simulcasting TLN East. Unlike the standard definition feed that has both an East and West coast feed, TLN HD has only one national feed operating from the Eastern Time Zone. It is currently available on Cogeco, Rogers Cable and Bell Fibe TV.