Government Directs CRTC To Consider Fee-For-Carriage

Following on yesterday's post on how Conservative MPs submitted comments to the CRTC in support of fee-for-carriage, this morning Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore announced an Order-in-Council directing the CRTC to hold hearings and report back on a fee-for-carriage system in Canada.  The challenge, as noted yesterday, is the possibility of establishing a system that does not lead to new cable and satellite costs for consumers.  Potential options include new regulatory oversight over cable and satellite billing or the more unlikely prospect of allowing consumers to opt-in (or opt-out) of local programming.


  1. If they are going to do it,
    then do it, and make sure that they allow opt-in, in particular for new subscribers (I’d consider opt-out for existing subscribers). In fact, get rid of the packages and allow me to buy only the channels that I want. I might even consider a satellite system at that point in time (no cable where I live).

    However, this should come at a price for the networks. Ensure that all networks convert all of their licensed transmitters to digital, or lose the transmitter, period. No partial conversion, where the large markets have to convert to digital while the smaller markets remain analog; that business model is dumb. In a few years you won’t be able to buy a TV with an analog tuner, forcing consumers into the arms of the cable companies and the satellite providers if they want to continue to receive TV.

  2. 400 Mil…

    I believe the networks have a CRTC submission asking for some 400M from the BDUs (Cable/Satellite) to pay for the DTV transmitters.

    I assumed that to be a broadcaster, you had to provide OTA as a license condition. Otherwise, without a transmitter, what makes you a broadcaster?

    If it is indeed a license condition, then why the need for this subsidy? This whole DTV transition comes as a surprise? Or, maybe the endgame all along was to avoid DTV OTA and simply ride the BDUs… could explain why they chose to spend on aquisition/consolidation instead.

  3. Vincent Clement says:

    Fine, allow fee-for-carriage. However, remove the requirement that the cable companies must offer these channels. And if they decide to carry these channels, then remove the requirement of simulcasting Canadian channels over American channels when they have the same program.

  4. Not playing their game…
    When the CRTC directed the cable/Satellite companies to discuss fee-for-carriage fees and come to an agreement, I knew it was time to go. I canceled my cable service. With a $55 antenna mounted on my balcony, I can get a dozen stations from my Ottawa apartment. I paid for the gear and I’m done. No more charges.

    I’m particularly jealous of those in Toronto where all the stations (save TVO) are already broadcast in digital. Further, they can also receive the digital broadcasts from Buffalo. With an antenna. Sweet.

    In the meantime, I’m patiently awaiting our own digital conversion…and not paying any monthly fees to watch television.

  5. If cable companies have to pay other providers for all the non-local and specialty channels they get, why should they be able to get local channels for free?

  6. @Mark: In the Ottawa area, the following channels currently broadcast DTV:

    CBOT (CBC)
    Sun-TV (both regular and HD, no corresponding analog signal)
    OMNI1 & OMNI2

    I can get signal on all of them, but due to antenna problems not always enough to lock on. Note that many of the non-local and specialty channels are owned by the networks; see my response to Marc.

    @Marc: If it came as a surprise then it was only to the corporate execs. They chose to spend on M&A (in TV as well as other forms of media) rather saving funds to cover a known upcoming expense. Makes one wonder how much “rainy day fund” they have.

  7. Is it just me, or are the conservatives turning into Bullies like in a school yard, everytime I turn around, they are doing something else. When is enough going to be enough!

  8. Ken S from Ramara says:

    All I ask is Give me the option to opt out…
    Right now with Shaw Direct Satellite, as part of their basic package get the OTA stations that are requesting FFC. These channels I rarely watch, so why would I want to pay any FFC. So if the CRTC is going to green light FFC, they must give BDU subscribers the choice of opting out of any channel with the FFC liability. Let’s be clear, the OTAs only need a subsidy to cover poor business decisions. These stations will not use any FFC slush fund for local programing, they will just use to pay down the debt!

  9. VancouverDave says:

    I can see the Letter of Direction now:
    “We’ve already cashed the cheque, so if you want your cut, you’ll implement fee-for-carriage ASAP.”

  10. They should replace the CRTC with a sock-puppet.
    It would be just as (if not more) useful for consumers and cost much less money.