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The new name for Radio-Canada, Ici, is seen on a billboard next to its building on Wednesday, June 5, 2013 in Montreal. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
The new name for Radio-Canada, Ici, is seen on a billboard next to its building on Wednesday, June 5, 2013 in Montreal. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Radio-Canada’s controversial new name is already taken Add to ...

It may have taken several years and the efforts of dozens of employees to arrive at a new nickname for Radio-Canada, but it appears the public broadcaster has decided to rebrand itself with someone else’s name.

The broadcaster announced last week it would unofficially rename itself Ici as part of a branding effort intended to help it break out in a cluttered media landscape. But regulatory filings indicate that a television service received a licence last year that clearly states that it would be called “ICI – International Channel.”

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The small channel intends to broadcast in 15 languages on Channel 47 in Montreal, a key market for both media companies even if the scale is completely different for each. The small television station doesn’t want to give up the rights to the name, and argues that Radio-Canada should back off its plans.

The channel is also loosely tied to Rogers Communications Inc., which will provide funding for its first five years in operation as part of its deal to acquire a separate Montreal television station that has since been rebranded as part of the cable giant’s City network.

The channel is owned by Sam Norouzi, who said he intended to go live in the fall, but is concerned the public broadcaster will attempt to gain access to his channel’s name by outspending it in court.

Radio-Canada could not be immediately reached for comment, but has filed paperwork in Quebec claiming that the new channel is infringing its trademark by adopting the name.

The broadcaster has come under fire for its name change that drops “Canada” from its identity. It insists the move won’t affect its official name, and was done in light of a “mediascape that is rapidly evolving.”

“It is in this context that a consistent brand identity – a common denominator for all Radio-Canada platforms – was needed,” the broadcaster said in a statement released late Friday night. “To do this, we turned to the term “ICI,” which has been used in conjunction with Radio-Canada for over 75 years and is inextricably linked to our identity.”

The broadcaster said it spent $400,000 to two private firms to help internal staff “develop the brand architecture, related logos and on-air graphics.” It also said it was “aware of the financial challenges” it faced, and said much of the work was done “in-house by dozens of employees who contributed to the process from across the corporation.”

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