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Canada Government Television The Almighty Buck The Media Entertainment Your Rights Online

CRTC Enforced $25/mo Cable TV Is Now Available To Canadians, But With Caveats 194

Deathspawner writes: Last March, Canada's regulatory agency for all things broadcasting, CRTC, ruled that cable TV providers would soon be forced to offer $25/mo packages. With enforcement having kicked-off on March 1, these inexpensive packages have now been made available. As Techgage has discovered, though, the first packages out-of-the-gate pack a number of caveats, and in some cases, are outright misleading. And, despite a simple framework to worth with, the two largest providers in the country, Rogers and Bell, offer vastly different packages, and ultimately vastly different values to the consumer.
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CRTC Enforced $25/mo Cable TV Is Now Available To Canadians, But With Caveats

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  • wrong solution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by slashping ( 2674483 ) on Friday March 04, 2016 @07:33AM (#51635559)
    The government shouldn't enforce prices. It should ensure there's enough competition, and that the competition is fair. When that is done, prices should automatically fall.
    • Re:wrong solution (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <mashiki@NOspAm.gmail.com> on Friday March 04, 2016 @07:57AM (#51635617) Homepage

      Canada operates as semi-protectionist. Meaning you're never going to see enough competition here, especially for the landmass and number of people(more people live in California then Canada last I looked). That means the government is left with the option of imposing things when stuff gets out of whack, which it is in Canada right now. Most people I know who had cable up until a few years ago was paying $90/mo for 55 channels. Many dropped cable for netflix and so on. Hell even my parents are considering it, because the only stuff that they see is: Reality TV, reality TV, reality TV, reality TV and more reality TV. Most of what is watched in their house is AMC. What most of my friends watch was sports(which they can pay for online).

      • Re:wrong solution (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 04, 2016 @10:30AM (#51636259)

        Most of the issue has nothing to do with the number of people living in Canada, as most people in Canada live in a very small strip of land near the US border.

        The issue has to do with the fact that many cities in Canada sold their souls to the cable company and nobody else is allowed to compete. The correct method would have been for the city to install the cables and then lease access to anyone who is interested in using them, with preferably multiple interconnects offered in each distribution panel.

        Throw in also that the CRTC makes it illegal to have any satellite service competition (It is a crime in Canada to view any unauthorized signals, this even includes Canadian signals if they have not received CRTC authorization!) and you have a perfect storm for what is happening now.

        The cable issue is presently unfixable. If the CRTC would delete the rules regarding satellite competition, DirecTV/Dishnetwork would destroy Bell/Shaw in seconds.

        Yes, it's bad enough DirecTV is a saviour compared to Bell. It's like wishing Mussolini would move run your country because the current leader is just *that* bad.

        If you keep trusting the CRTC to force the competition on Bell and Rogers, I have a bridge to sell you... One that, like the CRTC, is indirectly operated by Bell and Rogers.

      • That means the government is left with the option of imposing things when stuff gets out of whack, which it is in Canada right now. Most people I know who had cable up until a few years ago was paying $90/mo for 55 channels. Many dropped cable for netflix and so on.

        I'm sorry, I don't see what the problem here is. Why does the pricing need to be regulated? Obviously, some smarter (ex-)customers have figured out the obvious solution to overpriced cable TV, as you noted here yourself. This doesn't need any

        • I'm sorry, I don't see what the problem here is. Why does the pricing need to be regulated?

          Because Canadians told them to and , according to one poll last year, 64% of Canadians explicitly support the pick'n'pay policy and 25% are undecided, and that only leaves 11% against it.

          • I'd prefer to see a free-market solution to this. That's what we're doing here in the US, to a good extent, and it's working: cable companies keep jacking up their prices for TV service, so smart people "cut the cord" in response while TV-addicted morons get stuck paying the higher prices. Eventually, this should result in the cablecos going out of business, or turning into internet-only utilities (which absolutely should be regulated as I said before).

    • Re:wrong solution (Score:4, Informative)

      by gmack ( 197796 ) <gmack.innerfire@net> on Friday March 04, 2016 @08:11AM (#51635639) Homepage Journal

      Both you and TFA are both missing the point of what's going on here. It just doesn't matter if the basic package sucks because the cable providers must now offer "a la carte" pricing for the rest of the channels instead of forcing you into bundles. The upshot of this is that basic cable is now $25 and if you only watch 5 or 6 stations, you buy them one at a time without having to get a package that includes 20 channels you can't be bothered to watch.

      • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        The thing you're missing is that to get those "a la carte" channels, a lot of those companies are pulling a "and you need to have xyz" service from us too! Internet is the popular one. So, that $25 is now $90 and those 3 or 5 channels you want? Well you might not be able to get them separately, so you might have to buy them in bundle packs. Which could cost you $9-25 per bundle, you're looking at $150+ now...

        • by gmack ( 197796 )

          Come December, they will be forced to offer each channel as it's own option instead of in bundles. This is only stage 1 of that plan.

          Mind you, I can't be bothered.,. It's been a good 13 years since I've paid for any service that offers me TV in "channel" form..

        • The thing you're missing is that to get those "a la carte" channels, a lot of those companies are pulling a "and you need to have xyz" service from us too! Internet is the popular one. So, that $25 is now $90 and those 3 or 5 channels you want? Well you might not be able to get them separately, so you might have to buy them in bundle packs. Which could cost you $9-25 per bundle, you're looking at $150+ now...

          So... you're saying prices are going to go down? Because seriously, $150 sounds like less than what you have paid to get some individual channels last year, and you wouldn't have been getting internet service included in that price...

    • The government ... should ensure there's enough competition

      Not sure how they can do that. It's going to happen anyway in some arenas but not in ones that require large infrastructure.

      and that the competition is fair

      All I can say is, it's funny how politicians in government seem to have investments in companies that get "fortunate" breaks.

    • by dskoll ( 99328 )

      You can't really have much competition in the cable and landline phone markets. That's because the entrenched players have been granted access to run their wires on poles and underground; it's not feasible to open up that market and it's way too expensive for new entrants.

      Bell and Rogers are regulated (as they should be) because they are duopolies with control over critical infrastructure that needs to be managed for the national interest.

    • This sounds good in (soft-libertarian) theory, but it doesn't work in practice in many cases. For many cases, yes, it's absolutely the right approach; it's effective in a market where there's competition to be had, and is less overbearing than price regulation.

      However, this is about cable TV, which is a natural monopoly as it's a utility service. The barrier to entry is ridiculously high (you have to string cable to every residential home, and worse you have to deal with right-of-way issues, plus sabotage

    • Unfortunately, even in the USA, there is not enough competition. The companies collude with each other for the most part, and bring stuff like this on themselves. It's what happens in a Capitalist economy, sadly.

  • by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <mashiki@NOspAm.gmail.com> on Friday March 04, 2016 @07:37AM (#51635571) Homepage

    Good idea, bad rules allowed the providers to fuck everyone over. In some cases, the packages are priced so high that if you want only some of what you had before it would cost you more. It needs to be fixed. There are a few exceptions like zazeen. But Bell, Rogers, Cogeco, Shaw, Vmedia and so on all went the "you have to get xyz or you can't have it at all." The biggest one is the "you must have your internet service through us, or you can't have the skinny bundle."

    • by Luthair ( 847766 )
      For IPTV its pretty understandable that they would need you to use their own network
      • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        Except in a lot of cases, that's not what's happening. The CRTC are apparently investigating this already, both Bell and Rogers offer TV services that are not IPTV based.

  • Cost should be $0 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EzInKy ( 115248 ) on Friday March 04, 2016 @08:46AM (#51635737)

    Public channels are funded by the public and commercial channels should be paying cable and satellite providers to deliver their commercials to viewers, not the other way around.

  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Friday March 04, 2016 @09:04AM (#51635809)

    Allow anyone to run competing cable so long as they obey some simple rules... just like driving etc... and the cable companies won't be able to dick with people.

    offer them state backed monopolies and they'll fuck you. Every fucking time.

    there is no reason why if I'm reasonable about it, that I shouldn't be able to run a fiber optic cable from my home to the trunk... and I wanted to stop off at every house between myself and the trunk and link up that house to my line... I still don't see the problem if every one of those houses wants to be linked to my line.

    I could literally offer everyone along the way, high speed internet for peanuts. And as to obtaining "TV" from that... pretty fucking easy to throw the 20 TV stations someone might care about into a fiber cable.

    If a jackhole like me could do it... as in I could do without a learning curve... then a mom and pop ISP could do it too.

    But no... as usual. give it to a monopoly and then wait for them to fuck you.

    • Anyone can run competing cable, but who is going to run more cable when there isn't enough market to support it? They'll already be at a huge disadvantage as a new entrant to the market, and be caught fighting for table scraps. The current carries would just swat them like a fly.
      • No you can't. Try it.

        Try to run competing cable. Right now. See if you can run cable between point A and point B and connect houses and businesses along that line.

        You'll suddenly run into "problems"... mostly that they won't let you run it or more importantly connect houses to the line. Not unless you agree to a franchise agreement which will require you to do other fun things like provide internet service to the ENTIRE city.

        That's a bit like saying if I want to open ONE sandwich shop for ONE neighborhood..

      • No they can't. Not without signing agreements with existing companies. Communities sign franchise agreements that give exclusive rights to that company. You are very ignorant of how this works. http://www.theverge.com/2016/2... [theverge.com]
      • Anyone can run competing cable, but who is going to run more cable when there isn't enough market to support it?

        Why are you worried about running cables to places the market can't support? Are you imagining some sort of fundamental "right" to cable television?

        • No, I'm talking about major metropolitan areas. Run cables for $100 million when you can only realistically attract $50 million from companies that are already established.
  • by wardrich86 ( 4092007 ) on Friday March 04, 2016 @09:11AM (#51635847)
    They're offering up these cheap packages, but they're mostly channels that nobody cares much about... and a lot of them do air broadcasts that you can (or at least used to be able to) pick up with an antenna. The pathetic thing is that once the government started to force everything to go digital, people using antennas started losing a lot of channels they once had access to... That's something the government should prevented.
    • Re:Waste of $25 (Score:4, Informative)

      by wardrich86 ( 4092007 ) on Friday March 04, 2016 @09:15AM (#51635865)
      Rogers pack is practically what I grew up with for free with an antenna...

      -ABC
      -CBS
      -NBC
      -CBC
      -CTV
      -PBS
      -TVO
      -Some French channel I never watched
      -Fox
      -CHCH
      -WB
      -City
      • I don't think people in Canada can get all those for free.
        • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

          Depends on where you live. Lot of places in Southern Ontario you can get all those channels OTA. Seeing people getting 30-50 channels OTA isn't uncommon if you're in say Toronto or Kitchener/Waterloo, or people living along Lake Erie/Michigan/Ontario. Live in northern alberta though? Nope.

        • Well, I'm Canadian, and that's what I grew up with. I can confirm that at least up until 2008, I had all of those channels. Also for a while I could get channel 3 to come in... it was called VR.
      • I guess it depends how close you live to a major US City. There's no way somebody in Edmonton is going to pick up ABC over the air. Compare that with Windsor where there's always been a problem getting people to pay for cable because of all the freely available US networks. I'm in Ottawa and most people can't get any US networks unless you get a lot of extra equipment.

      • by Luthair ( 847766 )
        Living in Ottawa my OTA antenna gets 3 channels (Global, TVO & CBC). Growing up in a rural community 20-years ago we had twice that. Unfortunately since Bell & Rogers own most of the TV stations they've pulled back on broadcasting.
        • Twenty years ago, we got CKVR, CHCO, and TVO over the air. Channels 3, 11 and 2, as I recall. The antenna was connected to a dial that physically rotated it.

          At some point, we got Global TV on channel 7.

          Ah, growing up watching Robotech, Thundersub, Star Trek and Captain Power....

  • The Justin Bieber Channel
    The "Arrogant Asshole Speaking Archaic French" network.
    "Great White North" with the one surviving McKenzie brother.
    The "Mounties Going Full Monty" morning show

  • I love to watch people who support all out capitalism squirm to solve problems like this.. The fact is, capitalism doesn't come close to solving anything. The only defense of it is that nothing better has been tried.
    • Re:Capitalism (Score:4, Insightful)

      by oh_my_080980980 ( 773867 ) on Friday March 04, 2016 @10:46AM (#51636367)
      It screams government intervention. Unfortunately these are government sanctioned monopolies with exclusivity agreements. Government will need to regulate on two fronts: content and infrastructure. From the content perspective demand unbundling and force a la carte. This actually will cause channel prices to drop. More people watch QVC than ESPN yet ESPN changes several times more. ESPN is guaranteed revenue from people who don't watch the channel. Remove the captive audience and ESPN is forced to compete on price. Then you will see the true nature of pricing. Cost might go up, because ESPN throw money are programming because they can pass the cost onto the customer. So they might rethink their 10 year $15 Billion dollar deal with the NFL to carry Monday Night football. Customer might balk and a massive price increase - since now you have a smaller customer base - and ESPN might go back to the NFL and actually negotiate on what they can afford.

      If government runs infrastructure - like they're suppose to do - then they can lease out the lines to companies to provide the service. Like the way the FCC licenses the air waves for TV and Radio transmissions.

      There are ways forward but the industry opposes it and politicians aren't interested in upsetting their donors.
    • Capitalism solves it perfectly. You don't want $50 a month TV, don't buy it. DONE! If enough people DO want $50 a month TV then it will stay $50 a month. DONE! If the problem you're referring to is some people can't afford cable TV, that's not actually a problem, that's just a fact. Not everyone can afford an car, so they have to figure out other methods of transportation. Not everyone can afford cable TV, so they have to figure out other methods of entertainment.
  • The companies are charging an additional $3-$7 / month on top of it for the box.

    You know, I've seen Canadian shows on Netflix. And for the most part, the ones that make it there are good. Let cable hang.

  • And who cares? This seems like a law that would have been relevant in 1993. But now the world has passed it by, and the Canadian government looks like a bunch of out of touch beaureaucrats.

  • They can tweak all they like but it won't make any difference. The underlying business model is broken Changes in technology will do that.

    I pulled the plug on cable years ago. When I look at what's on cable now it's not even the handful of channels I would watch, it's the handful of programs I would watch, since most of the content is garbage. An on-demand setup like Netflix is a much better fit for me.

    ...laura

  • The only thing that would have come about from this going well would have been a slowdown of the death of the cable TV industry. But by overreaching with their greed, the customer bleed should continue apace.
  • They are offering $10/month + free STB for the first year provided you commit to one year. It comes with 35+ channels, received my STB one or two days later. Works flawlessly. There is also an app to watch on your tablet but support is limited. Nexus (Google) is out, Yoga 3 (Lenovo) is out, Galaxy (Samsung) is ok, Ipad (Apple) is okay.

  • Wondering if the channels are all still encrypted, requiring separate fees per-TV for a cable converter, or if Canada was wise enough to mandate they be ClearQAM or something else so people can just connect their set and watch.

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