Cable and satellite still talking tough

TV prices are set to climb at Rogers, Bell and Cogeco following CRTC ruling.

Bell TV indicated it will increase the price of its TV packages as early as September, while Rogers Communications predicted that Canadians will pay between $50 million and $100 million more per year for conventional TV signals as fallout continued in the wake of the CRTC’s change of heart on fee-for-carriage.

Cable and satellite companies continued on Tuesday to raise the by-now familiar arguments and threatened to derail the controversial plan, while conventional broadcasters cheered.

‘The CRTC has embarked on a course of action that will inevitably cause cable and satellite retail rates to rise significantly,’ said Cogeco Cable president and CEO Louis Audet in a statement. The cableco estimates that such fees will cost its subscribers an average of $5 more per month. Rogers puts the number at between $3 and $5, depending on the cable package.

Mirko Bibic, Bell’s SVP of regulatory and government affairs, noted that distributors are already paying 6% – soon to be 6.5% because of the increase in the local TV fund contributions, also unveiled Monday – of their revenues to support the creation of Canadian content.

That ‘makes the CRTC’s support of yet another new broadcasting tax… all the more perplexing,’ said Bibic.

Bibic and Rogers Communications vice-chair Phil Lind are particularly perturbed by the move because the CRTC previously rejected fee-for-carriage twice, and because a parliamentary committee did not include it as a recommendation in its June report on the Canadian TV industry.

‘We are profoundly concerned about how these new taxes will affect our customers and the Canadian broadcasting system,’ said Lind, ‘and we intend to fight them on behalf of Canadian consumers.’

The issue could end up in the Supreme Court of Canada, as the distributors have a legal opinion that the CRTC doesn’t have the jurisdiction to impose fee-for-carriage.

From Playback Daily