Jean-Pierre Blais, head of the CRTC, has just announced the anticipated changes to requirements for cable providers in Canada, and what it means for viewers.
A CRTC press release says by the end of 2016, viewers will be able to supplement an affordable entry-level service with the additional channels they want, either on a pick-and-pay basis or in small, reasonably priced bundles of channels. By March 2016, Canadians will be able to subscribe to an entry-level television service that costs no more than $25 per month. It will include:
- all local and regional television stations,
- public interest channels such as the Cable Public Affairs Channel and Aboriginal Peoples Television Network,
- education channels,
- and, if offered, community channels and the services operated by provincial legislatures.
As we told you a while back, there has been considerable backlash against the idea that consumers would need to subscribe to cable just to stream video on their devices through services like Shomi and CraveTV — and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and the Consumers’ Association of Canada went so far as to file applications with the CRTC against the big cable companies who own access to them. The entry-level cable subscription sounds like a compromise between the extremes on the two sides of the question — big cable, seeking to maximize profits, and those who want video on their devices without any cable company middleman.
Of course, there are other issues. During the Q&A following his announcement (you can watch the whole session on CTV, here), Blais admitted that the new regs might result in job loss “which is always sad” but said “Innovative companies will find ways to compete.”