CRTC proposes $30 basic cable, US Super Bowl ads

The regulator laid the table for upcoming Let's Talk TV hearings in September with potential policy shifts that stand to gore Canadian TV's fattest sacred cows.
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The CRTC on Thursday laid the table for its upcoming Let’s Talk TV hearings by unveiling additional details on its proposed pick-and-pay cable regime for consumers, and allowing Canadians to view American Super Bowl ads on their TV sets.

Only proposals came from the regulator, but they are far-reaching.

In its latest comments, the CRTC said BDUs could allow subscribers to choose channels on a standalone, or pick-or-pay basis beyond a basic cable TV package capped at $30 in price.

“Canadians would be able to build their own packages made up of channels that they choose,” the regulator proposed.

At the same time, consumers that prefer pre-assembled cable packages could continue to receive them.

On the thorny issue of simultaneous substitution, the CRTC offered two potential options.

The first would see BDUs no longer able to “perform simultaneous substitution,” or substitute American ads for Canadian ones as part of American TV feeds. 

The second option would see BDUs end simultaneous substitution for live event programming, whether sporting events or awards shows.

The result would see Canadians view American ads on all non-Canadian programming, or watch American ads on live events if the second option on simultaneous substitution is taken up.

The regulator also proposed that BDUs offer a “small basic” package of Canadian programming, which Canadians could purchase for between $20 and $30.

“This package would include local stations, and if offered, a community channel and a provincial legislature channel. It would also include Canadian channels that fulfill important policy objectives under the Broadcasting Act, as well as any other channels that their cable or satellite provider chooses to offer,” the CRTC proposed.

Other sacred cows of Canadian TV also stand to be gored if the CRTC’s proposals are taken up after upcoming September hearings.

The regulator proposed the scrapping of long-standing “genre exclusivity policy and protections” for category A pay and specialty services.

That would leave specialty services “fully competitive,” subject to standard requirements and no longer enjoying access rights.

Elsewhere, local TV stations would be allowed to shut down transmitters.

The CRTC is to start wide-ranging hearing on the future of Canadian TV on Sept. 8 in Gatineau.

Following additional regulatory decisions and consultations, the regulator’s new Canadian TV policies are expected to come into force by the end of 2015.

From Playback Daily

More analysis of the upcoming hearings:

- Simultaneous substitution

- Kids channels

-Set-top box measurement