While greater consumer choice is definitely needed, skinny basic, which still envisions a required basket of channels, isn’t good enough. A preferable approach would be to offer consumers real choice with a full pick-and-pay format. I discussed the option in 2009 during the fee-for-carriage fight:
Second, make all remaining channels – local, foreign, and specialty – optional for consumers. Groups of channels can still be packaged to offer better value (sports, movie, local channel, or U.S. channel packages), but the crucial difference from the current system would be that Canadian consumers would get to decide what channels they want to pay for.
Third, institute a fee-for-carriage system so private broadcasters are compensated for their local signals where consumers choose to subscribe. If Canadians are really concerned with their local television, they will subscribe and the broadcasters will be the beneficiaries. If the Canadian broadcasters are wrong, however, they lose both compensation and mandatory carriage.
The core principle is simple – the CRTC mandates full consumer choice so that vertically integrated companies can’t use their market power to pressure consumers to subscribe to unwanted channels, broadcasters are forced to compete for consumer dollars by offering something that is worth paying for, and consumers start with public broadcasters (which they’ve already paid for) and go from there.