CRTC thinks you have more money for cable companies

This week, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) made a number of statements and decisions that will inevitably leave Canadian programming in the dust, while cable and satellite subscribers are being expected to pay more for their television services.

The CRTC, which regulates private television broadcasters and cable companies, has set a very dangerous precedent that, pending Federal Court approval, would allow all private broadcasters to negotiate the value of their television signals with satellite and cable providers, while excluding the CBC from the negotiations. This also comes after the Conservative government decided last year that they would not allow the CBC to borrow money as a method of offsetting drops in advertising revenue.

Last fall, CRTC collected comments from approximately 200,000 Canadians as to what their central concerns regarding television broadcasting were. The overwhelming consensus from these comments boiled down to two main concerns for Canadians; they do not want to pay more for television services, and they are worried about the future of local and Canadian programming.

So what does this mean to the average consumer?

First of all, Canadians will likely see increases in the price of television services. With broadcasters being able to negotiate how much they charge cable and satellite companies for their services, the providers will likely have to pay more to carry channels that consumers want. The most likely scenario...increases in cable and satellite service fees for consumers. The CRTC has actually gone on record stating that they feel Canadians can afford more for television services.

With most television subscribers already paying more than $60 per month for services, it seems that the CRTC is not listening to the concerns of consumers when they say that they are worried about paying more for T.V.

Secondly, local and Canadian content will be left out in the cold. The CBC, according to president and CEO Hubert Lacroix, invests more developing Canadian content than all other broadcasters combined. If the CBC is unable to negotiate the value of their signals as private companies are allowed to, the income the CBC gathers will be far less than private broadcasters. Couple this with the loss of advertising revenue and the lack of governmental support, the CBC stands to lose big. And if the CBC loses, Canadian content suffers.

Local news stations have suffered significantly, as well. Paul Sparkes, executive vice-president of CTVglobemedia, has stated that of the 11 CTV-owned stations in Ontario, 10 of them, including MCTV, which services Northern Ontario, are losing money. MCTV is Northern Ontario’s flagship local news broadcaster. If they cannot find themselves in a position to recoup their losses, Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing residents could lose their biggest local news provider.

It is time that the CRTC begins working for the best interests of Canadian television subscribers. If they aren’t listening to the 200,000 voices who are concerned about how much they pay and the importance of local content, then who are they listening to?