Broadcasters Want You To Pay More For Local TV

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In case you didn’t realize, the future of how you watch, where you watch and how you pay for television content is the big discussion going on in Ottawa for the next week.

The CRTC kicked off the two week review hearing from all sides of the broadcasting spectrum that will help the CRTC draft new regulation and policy to the country’s broadcasting system – and just how much it will cost the consumer in the long run.

Practically everything is on the table from Canadian content requirements, to allowing consumers to pick and pay for the channels they want to streaming services like Netflix and how delivery of content will change in the years to come.

Cable outfitters warn however that a pick and pay system could actually increase bills not lower them.

This week, Bell who owns CTV and the CBC which is owned by the public along with other broadcasters such as Shaw and Rogers say the current system is broken – more money and revenue streams must be introduced to save local newscasts and local television as a whole.

Under a mandate from the Federal Government, the CRTC was asked to review the current system and introduce a pick and pay system. Where consumers can pick and pay for the channels they want. That however, according to the large telecom companies that now own the distribution as well as the content, will end up costing consumers more for individual channels they may want.

The CRTC want a “skinny basic” service offered that would only include local Canadian stations, no American or sports channels. Currently the basic cable service includes a bundle of pay channels as well as Canadian and American networks.

The CRTC wants this new service to cost about $25 to $30 a month. The broadcasters  want a piece of that. including the CBC that wants to start charging a subscriber fee to watch CBC television. That move is also echoed by the private broadcasters who think consumers are ready to start paying for local newscasts.

On Friday, CBC executives told the commission that it is time to drop free over the air digital signals and allow conventional TV stations such as CBC and CTV to charge distributors a fee for carrying their channels in basic packages – even if that cost is passed on to customers.  Analog signals were discontinued in 2011 – as a cost savings measure the CRTC allowed broadcasters to ditch smaller markets with a digital transmitter. For example viewers in Sault Ste. Marie can no longer pick up over the air signals of Canadian broadcasters. Consumers need cable or satellite to receive   “local news”

The hearing “Let’s Talk TV” allowed Canadians to voice their concerns over the future of television services in Canada.

The hearing is expected to last through the rest of this week. The CRTC will determine the outcome sometime next year.