Pick-and-pay cable packages: What you need to know

TORONTO -- Canadians now have the choice to pay no more than $25 a month for basic cable as the deadline for the CRTC-mandated so-called skinny cable and satellite packages dawned Tuesday.

See Full Article

The new regulations came after the federal regulator's Let's Talk TV campaign, launched in 2013, found Canadians wanted more choice and affordability from their cable providers.

Here's what you need to know about the so-called skinny basic TV packages:

What's a basic cable package?

Basic cable packages must include at least 10 local and regional TV channels, public interest channels (like the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network), educational programming, community channels and legislative channels where available.

Is that all that's included?

That's the bare minimum for skinny cable packages. They may also include local AM and FM radio stations, up to 10 non-local TV stations and another province or territory's educational programming if there's no local alternative.

Some U.S. networks may also be included.

Shaw, Rogers, VMedia and Cogeco offer some U.S. channels in their basic packages, according to their online offerings, while Bell, Telus, Videotron and Sasktel do not.

What if I want other channels?

Customers can also choose to pay extra and add on supplementary channels to their basic cable packages through either individual, a-la-carte channel selections or small, pre-packaged bundles of up to 10 channels.

The CRTC mandated all cable providers must offer one of those choices by March 1, and must offer both options to consumers by December.

Some companies are already offering both pick-and-pay individual channel and bundle choices.

Rogers customers, for example, can add premium channels to the $24.99 starter package or pay for theme packs ranging from $3 to $18.

So does it cost less than previous plans?

While the monthly cost of the skinny package is capped at $25 monthly, that doesn't include installation or equipment fees.

Bell's starter package, for example, costs $24.95 for basic channels.

But new customers selecting that plan must pay another $7 monthly for an HD receiver, or $15 monthly for an HD PVR rental, or $499 to purchase the unit. There's also a one-time installation fee of $49.95 for customers signing on for a two-year contract, or $199.95 for those without a contract.

If customers want any channels not included in the skinny package, they can pay between $4 and $7 a month per channel, or $37 for a selection of 10. Some other service providers offer individual and bundled channels for less.

Customers on Bell's starter plan cannot combine their services with any other offers, according to company's website.

That sounds like a lot of money. Are skinny packages really cheaper?

The Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, a group advocating for better TV programming, has warned many people will likely see their monthly bills get bigger under the pick-and-pay system.

However, last month, the CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais warned the regulatory body will be on the lookout for anti-consumer behaviour.

The CRTC will not hesitate to act if it deems some TV providers are disregarding Canadians' wishes, the CRTC's decision or the spirit of the outcomes these companies were intended to achieve, he said in a speech in mid-February.

How do I make the switch?

TV viewers wanting to make the switch can visit the websites of cable providers to determine what packages, a-la-carte channel and bundle options most appeal to their needs.

The CRTC provides a list of service providers in various Canadian cities. (http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/comm/fourprov.htm)


Latest Economic News

  • Toys 'R' Us founder dies amid chain's U.S. collapse

    Economic CBC News
    Charles P. Lazarus, the World War II veteran who founded Toys "R" Us six decades ago and transformed it into an iconic piece of Americana, died Thursday at age 94, a week after the chain announced it was going out of business in the U.S. Source
  • 'What keeps me up at night': Trump's trade czar explains hawkish moves on China

    Economic CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- It was U.S. President Donald Trump who announced a broad trade offensive against China on Thursday, with wide-ranging tariffs, an international lawsuit and investment restrictions to combat alleged theft of Americans' intellectual property. Source
  • New details emerge about proposed payout to Manitoba Metis Federation

    Economic CTV News
    WINNIPEG - The former board chairman at Manitoba Hydro is defending a proposed $67-million payment to the Manitoba Metis Federation. Sanford Riley resigned along with eight other Crown corporation board members on Wednesday, saying Premier Brian Pallister has been unwilling to meet to discuss important issues. Source
  • Global alignment needed on cryptocurrency policy, BoC deputy governor says

    Economic CBC News
    The Bank of Canada's senior deputy governor is calling for authorities to work toward a coherent set of globally aligned policies governing cryptocurrencies. Carolyn Wilkins told a University of Toronto conference on Thursday that such a strategy will need to cover risks in both cash and derivatives products, as well as the related ecosystems. Source
  • Need global alignment on cryptocurrency policy, BoC deputy governor says

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- The Bank of Canada's senior deputy governor is calling for authorities to work toward a coherent set of globally aligned policies governing cryptocurrencies. Carolyn Wilkins told a University of Toronto conference on Thursday that such a strategy will need to cover risks in both cash and derivatives products, as well as the related ecosystems. Source
  • Stocks plummet on fears of U.S.-China trade war

    Economic CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Stocks plunged Thursday after the Trump administration slapped sanctions on goods and investment from China. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped more than 700 points as investors feared that trade tensions between the world's largest economies would escalate. Source
  • Kidde recalling 40,000 smoke detectors in Canada

    Economic CBC News
    Kidde is recalling almost half a million smoke detectors because a yellow cap left on during the manufacturing process can cover one of the two smoke sensors, making them unable to properly detect fires. The company says it is recalling two types of dual-sensor model numbers with model numbers PI2010 and PI9010. Source
  • Trump to 'pause' looming metal tariffs for more countries: Lighthizer

    Economic CBC News
    The European Union, Australia, Argentina, Brazil and South Korea are among the nations that will get an initial exemption from looming steel and aluminum tariffs from the Trump administration, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Thursday. Source
  • Why it could take until 2119 to close gender pay gap in U.S.

    Economic CTV News
    When Starbucks announced this week that it has achieved 100 per cent pay equity at its stores in the United States, the company’s statement noted that it could take until 2119 to close the gender pay gap across the entire U.S. Source
  • Trade war averted for now between U.S., Europe

    Economic CTV News
    BERLIN -- The U.S. government said Thursday that the European Union will be among the trading partners that will be spared from an immediate decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports into the U.S. Source