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Should Canadians Need Cable for CraveTV and Shomi?

CraveTV, Bell Media’s premium TV streaming service, will soon be available through four more Canadian telecommunications distributors. Access Communications of Saskatchewan is now offering CraveTV, and will shortly be followed by Cable Cable, Nexicom (both in Ontario), and Northwestel (the Territories, Northern BC — and also High Level). These distributors join Eastlink, TELUS Optik TV, Bell Fibe TV, Bell Satellite TV, and Bell Aliant FibreOP TV, according to a Bell press release on PR Newswire.

So — more access to TV streaming, depending on where in Canada you live. But not everyone is happy. Some are questioning why consumers should have to subscribe to a cable/Internet service they have no other use for, simply to be able to stream TV on their devices.

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre  and the Consumers’ Association of Canada (together PIAC-CAC) have taken the step of filing two applications with the CRTC, one against Bell and the other targeting Rogers and Shaw, whose joint venture Shomi also offers streaming services — to the two telecom companies’ subscribers. Geoffrey White, PIAC-CAC counsel, says the subscriber-only service is “designed to favour legacy business models and to discriminate against customers who wish to only view programming through an internet service provider of their choice” and does not fit in with either current rules or broadcasting policy objectives in Canada. The CBC has more on the issue here.

Whether Big Cable is desperately clinging to life or just trying to offer the best to its subscribers, it’ll have to satisfy both the CRTC and the marketplace.

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