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)



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • North American markets advance, loonie up slightly

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO - The Toronto stock market advanced in late-morning trading, led by health-care, utilities and energy stocks. The S&P/TSX composite index added 31.90 points at 15,327.10. In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average advanced 40.85 points to 19,655.66, while the S&P 500 gained 6.02 points at 2,252.21 and the Nasdaq composite rose 27.18 points at 5,444.53. Source
  • Sears Canada reports $120 million loss in third-quarter as revenue drops

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- Sears Canada saw its third-quarter loss grow to $120.0 million from $53.2 million during the same period last year as revenue declined. The loss amounted to $1.18 per share, compared with 52 cents per share a year ago. Source
  • Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent to step down next year

    Economic CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Coca-Cola said Friday that CEO Muhtar Kent will step down as CEO next year and be replaced by Chief Operating Officer James Quincey. The world's largest beverage maker is under pressure to grow as people around the world drink less soda, including its flagship Coke. Source
  • U.S. airlines may soon let you talk on your cellphone in flight

    Economic CBC News
    Airlines could let passengers make in-flight phone calls using Wi-Fi under a proposal from federal regulators. Flight attendants and others have complained that the calls could be disruptive. But the Department of Transportation said Thursday that it envisioned allowing the calls if airlines tell all customers about the policy when they buy their tickets. Source
  • Tribes suing over Dakota Access pipeline willing to put claims on hold

    Economic CTV News
    BISMARCK, N.D. -- Two Sioux tribes suing over the Dakota Access pipeline say they're willing to put their claims on hold while the Army considers whether to allow the pipeline to cross under a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota. Source
  • Japan ratifies Pacific trade pact despite Trump plans to withdraw U.S.

    Economic CTV News
    TOKYO -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe won parliamentary approval Friday for ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, despite U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's plan to withdraw from the 12-nation trade pact. Upper house lawmakers approved the TPP on Friday, heeding Abe's calls to push ahead with it despite Trump's rejection of the free-trade initiative championed by President Barack Obama. Source
  • Asian shares stumble as European Central Bank rally fades

    Economic CTV News
    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Asian shares meandered Friday as an overnight rally in U.S. markets helped by the European Central Bank's decision to extend its bond-buying economic stimulus program faded. South Korea's benchmark slipped as lawmakers prepared to vote on whether or not to impeach President Park Geun-hye. Source
  • Global stocks extend European stimulus-inspired rally

    Economic CTV News
    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Global stocks continued to rise Friday as investors remained buoyed by the European Central Bank's decision to extend its bond-buying economic stimulus program. South Korea's benchmark slipped as lawmakers voted to impeach President Park Geun-hye over a corruption scandal. Source
  • Sales, profit at Sears in U.S. continue to decline

    Economic CTV News
    HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. -- Sears, the one-time standard bearer for U.S. retail, has posted quarterly losses for more than a year now, and sales continue to slide as the company shutters poorly performing stores. The company's cash situation, which has led in the past to clashes with suppliers, is an ongoing concern. Source
  • Stock markets in New York hit new record highs

    Economic CBC News
    Major stock markets in New York closed at record highs Thursday amid a broad rally from banks, materials and technology companies. The Dow Jones industrial average advanced 65.19 points at 19,614.81, while the S&P 500 added 4.84 points at 2,246.19, both hitting all-time highs for a second day in a row. Source