CRTC reminds telecoms they must promote basic TV packages to customers

TORONTO - In less than two weeks, Canada's TV-service providers must all start offering so-called pick and pay cable service.

See Full Article

But, so far, most have been mum on what those new packages will look like, much to the disappointment of the country's broadcast regulator.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission issued an information bulletin Wednesday to remind the telecoms that they must promote this service in some way to consumers by March 1, said CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais.

“(It) was a shot across the bow,” he said in an interview.

Under the deadline set by the CRTC, all Canadian TV providers must offer a basic package of channels - priced $25 or less a month - and either a la carte channel selection or small bundles of channels. By December, these companies must offer all three options.

The new CRTC regulations arose from consultations with Canadians about TV choice and affordability.

But so far few of the telecoms have announced what their basic packages will include.

VMedia announced its skinny package in June with 28 channels for less than $18 a month. Shaw (TSX:SJR.B) now offers a $25 limited-TV package with 40 channels.

So far, none of the other major TV providers - Bell (TSX:BCE), Telus (TSX:T) or Rogers (TSX:RCI.B) - have listed basic cable plans priced at $25 or less online.

Blais said he doesn't want to presume bad faith. The companies are likely lining up their offers or watching to see what moves their competitors make, he said.

The companies are not required to announce their packages until March 1st.

Bell's online offerings will be updated by Feb 21, an online customer service representative said.

A Rogers customer service representative said the company will advertise its lineup shortly before the deadline, while representatives of Telus did not immediately respond to a query on the issue.

Blais said the spirit of the CRTC decision ought to be respected with the new offerings.

“Cable and satellite companies should not view this change as an opportunity to replace business practices designed to maximize profits from captive customers with newer forms of anti-consumer behaviour,” he said in a speech to the Canadian Club of Toronto on Thursday.

“Instead, I urge them to make the products they sell even better for Canadians.”

The upcoming mini-bundles ought to be competitively priced to attract customers who wanted better choice and affordability, he said.

If the CRTC deems some companies to be disregarding the spirit of the decision as they implement their new offerings, the regulator will take action against them, he added.

The TV providers were not the only part of the telecommunications industry scolded by the CRTC on Thursday.

In his speech, Blais cast corporate executives of news organizations as greedy.

During the CRTC's recent hearings on local and community television, Blais said he listened to Canadians discuss the problems facing the country's news organizations and the need for strong reporting.

Meanwhile “corporate executives who own luxury yachts and private helicopters came looking for subsidies.”

When these executives want the CRTC to grant a license or approve a large transaction, he said, they make promises about how much they will invest in programming.

“But, the minute we initiate a policy hearing, we are told the cupboards are bare.”

Instead of offering government subsidies to struggling news organizations, Blais suggested Canadians ought to help finance local news through an arm's length organization to avoid government interference in reporting.



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • Buffett's bite of Apple even bigger than was thought

    Economic CTV News
    OMAHA, Neb. -- Warren Buffett says he's investing heavily in Apple, believing that once consumers begin using the company's products they aren't likely to stop. The billionaire investor said on CNBC Monday that Berkshire Hathaway now holds about 133 million shares of Apple after buying yet more of the company's stock this year. Source
  • Asian markets drop as investors look ahead to Trump speech

    Economic CTV News
    BEIJING - Asian stock markets were lower Monday as investors looked ahead to U.S. President Donald Trump's speech to Congress this week for details of promised tax cuts and infrastructure spending. KEEPING SCORE: Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index fell 0.9 per cent to 19,107.47 and the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.5 per cent to 3,237.14. Source
  • Billionaire industrialist Koch leads fight to deregulate African-style braiding

    Economic CTV News
    PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- The billionaire industrialist Charles Koch and hair braider Jocelyn DoCouto have at least one thing in common. They are both part of a national movement to deregulate the business of African-style braiding. Source
  • What's in your chicken? CBC's Marketplace consumer cheat sheet

    Economic CBC News
    Miss something this week? We've got you. Here's this week's consumer cheat sheet. Get the Marketplace newsletter in your inbox every week. Sign up here. Inflatable mattress (prices) So, that bed you got for a bargain? That deal may be less dreamy than you thought. Source
  • Vatican stakes out copyright to Pope Francis' image

    Economic CTV News
    VATICAN CITY -- God's love may be free, but the Vatican says it has a copyright on the pope. Unnerved by the proliferation of papal-themed T-shirts, snow globes and tea towels around the world, the Vatican has warned it intends to "protect" the image of Pope Francis and "stop situations of illegality that may be discovered. Source
  • Is the Ivanka Trump brand boycott anti-feminist?

    Economic CBC News
    After Nordstrom dropped Ivanka Trump's fashion line this month, a Fox News host blasted women boycotting stores that carry the brand. In an opening rant on her show, Jeanine Pirro called the boycotters "loud, classless women" who were unfairly picking on a fellow female simply because they dislike her dad, U.S. Source
  • Last BlackBerry-designed phone with physical keyboard to hit stores in April

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- Fans of BlackBerry's classic physical keyboard will have reason to celebrate when the last product designed in part by the former smartphone leader becomes available in April. The Waterloo, Ont.-based firm played a role in developing the KEYone, named for the return of the QWERTY keyboard that other smartphone designers have mostly long retired. Source
  • Final cleanup begins at Dakota Access pipeline protest camp

    Economic CTV News
    BISMARCK, N.D. -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has moved into the evacuated Dakota Access pipeline protest camp to finish the cleanup started weeks ago by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. A Florida-based company has been hired to provide trash removal and environmental cleanup in the main Oceti Sakowin camp on the north side of the Cannonball River and the smaller Rosebud camp on the south side. Source
  • Appealing to millennials, Las Vegas gets e-sports arena

    Economic CTV News
    LAS VEGAS -- The arena has all the features that a professional sports venue needs: stands, warm-up areas for teams, massive screens for spectators and a broadcast platform for commentators. But what distinguishes this new Las Vegas arena is its dozens of video game consoles. Source
  • Warren Buffett says don't waste money on investment fees

    Economic CTV News
    OMAHA, Neb. -- Billionaire Warren Buffett wants investors to be wary of the high fees Wall Street routinely charges because of the damage they do to investment returns, and he emphasized his confident outlook in the U.S. Source