Are you among the many Canadians who have opted to hang up on your landline or cut the cable on your television in light of cheaper online alternatives in an effort to save on that costly cable bill? Feeling frustrated paying for channels you don’t watch or need but have to purchase because it is a mandatory part of your bundle? Well things are about to change according to the latest CRTC regulations handed down to Canadian cable companies.
To start with, the CRTC, which is short for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, is a regulatory group tasked the job of regulating and supervising the broadcasting and telecommunications systems within Canada. For instance, one of their jobs is that they keep a watchful eye on the kinds and types of channels cable companies offer to consumers, and in the past regulated the prices cable television providers charged consumers in an effort to ensure cable costs were a fair price.
Based on the CRTC’s new ruling, cable providers must now give Canadians the option of buying a cheaper basic package for no more than $25 a month. This entry-level bundle, which includes a baseline of local stations and educational channels, could then be supplemented by channels added on a pick-and-pay basis. So, à la carte is finally on the menu, letting TV viewers order the channels they crave without charging them for programming they never wanted to consume in the first place. Also, too, as part of their ruling the CRTC also announced that customers who want to switch cable companies no longer have to give 30 days notice – a ruling long awaited for many people.
So, why did they now decide to step in to make changes? I think there are two main reasons why: (though I personally think it might be a little too late) Firstly, the decision settles a matter for many cable TV consumers (including myself) in Canada who have long felt constrained by television providers always bundling their programming, forcing its users to pay for costly programming packages that lumped in dozens of channels we were not very interested in. And secondly, cord cutting is now a reality with many Canadians opting for watching their content online where they can somewhat pick the kind of programming they want to avoid purchasing expensive cable TV bundling and so the CRTC wanted to put into place a better purchasing structure for consumers essentially forcing the cable industry to modify their bundling models so as to adapt to the changing times.
With that in mind, the CRTC is giving the cable industry some time to adjust to the new rules, introducing them gradually over the next year and a half before they become mandatory in December 2016. Service providers will have until March 2016 to offer the $25 basic package. The full pick-and-pay option, where subscribers could both create bundles and buy individual channels, must be in place by December 2016.
Be that as it may, there will be some potential trade-offs with this new ruling. Fortunately, subscribers who are happy with their service may keep their bundles but for consumers who are not satisfied with their current TV bundle, they will now have choice. However, once the “shackles of bundling” are lifted, the prices Canadians pay for any individual channel might increase significantly because now they’ll be paying the market rate which could potentially lead to an even higher cable bill depending on how many individual channels you buy. Secondly, it could lead to less popular stations, that normally got bundled in with other popular channels now get left out in the dark which could lead to job loss for both that channel and the cable provider.
And so for anyone looking to get any further information on the latest CRTC ruling, Kevin mentioned that the CRTC’s website at: www.crtc.gc.ca has updated information under their Newsroom section that people can read for further elaboration on this technical and tricky topic.