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CRTC ruling could create "pick-and-pay" unbundled cable services

DH Vancouver Staff Mar 19, 2015 9:07 am

UPDATE: CRTC announces television service for $25 plus “pick-and-play”

Cable television subscribers could soon find they don’t have to purchase their channel line-ups in bundles, if an anticipated decision by the federal government forces cable companies to switch to a “pick-and-pay” model.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) will announce their ruling on the matter Thursday afternoon at 1 p.m. PT at the regulator’s Quebec headquarters.

There is widespread speculation that the CRTC will unveil a “skinny basic” cable package capped at $25. The CRTC has been looking into implementing a “pick-and-pay” program that would allow consumers to choose which individual channels they want to add on top of their basic service.

Just what “skinny basic” entails has yet to be revealed, as The Canadian Press points out, “it’s not clear whether skinny basic would be an all-Canadian service that includes local stations and provincial educational channels, or a service that includes American networks as well.”

The nation’s major cable providers have pushed back against the proposed new system, and claim consumers may not see significant–if any–savings.

News 1130 reports:

Analyst Maher Yaghi with Desjardins believes if the CRTC does allow freedom to “pick and pay” for individual channels or scaled-down bundles, it may lead to a $5 to $10 reduction in your monthly cable or satellite bill. But he says many of the weaker specialty and niche channels would become unprofitable.

Additionally, other media analysts believe that consumers will then shift those savings over to other services that provide movie and television programming, such as Netflix, notes the Financial Post.

However, authors of a study on the “pick-and-play” model recently stated in the Globe and Mail that there is merely “superficial appeal” for consumers in the proposed system, citing the widespread use and success of the practice of “bundling” in other consumer-oriented instances, concluding: “Any regulation mandating pick-and-pay would become irrelevant at best, harmful at worst.”

DH Vancouver Staff
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