A La Carte Cable Channel Pricing Is Coming… To Canada

Today’s media consumers are so picky. They’ve come to resist the idea that they must pay hundreds of dollars every year to receive three hundred cable channels when they only watch maybe five of them. A recent government regulatory board decision means that consumers will have more choice over which specific channels they subscribe to and pay for in the near future. The bad news: It’s the Canadian government.

The economics of cable in Canada are pretty much the same as they are south of the border. Content providers want their channels in bundles in order to theoretically reach as many subscribers as possible. Cable companies want to pay the lowest carriage rates possible for those channels. Consumers just want to watch TV in peace.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission was called in to arbitrate a carriage fee dispute between Bell Media and a group of smaller cable companies. Bell won that dispute, but the ruling ends a long impasse between the companies and means that exciting lineup changes could begin soon.

Don’t worry about the media companies, though. They want consumers to know that picking and choosing content packages is all very well and good, but they’re going to have to pay up either way. Kevin Crull, the president of Bell Media, said in a statement:

“The CRTC has sent a very clear signal that it supports carriage arrangements that will deliver more packaging flexibility to consumers, while allowing programming services to seek market-established rates to ensure their financial viability.”

So consumers may not end up paying much less, but at least they’ll be paying for fewer channels that they didn’t want in the first place.

CRTC rulings promise more channel choice for consumers [Toronto Star] (Thanks, Wayne!)