Canada’s broadcast regulator has issued broad new proposals that could dramatically alter how Canadians receive and pay for their television.
The proposals issued Thursday by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission include requiring cable and satellite providers to offer a basic service made up primarily of local Canadian channels.
The CRTC is also proposing a so-called pick-and-pay structure that would allow Canadians to choose individual channels, on top of a basic service.
And it suggests the price of that basic service could be capped at between $20 and $30 per month.
Industry Minister James Moore first indicated last October that he’d like to see more choice for Canadian consumers.
The government then laid out its plans to overhaul the country’s TV distribution system in its speech from the throne, which included a proposed “pick-and-pay” service structure.
Other proposals unveiled Thursday include requiring service providers to offer build-your-own channel packages or allowing them to continue offering the same packages currently on the market.
“(Service providers) would be required to allow subscribers to build their own custom packages of discretionary programming services,” the CRTC said in a table incorporated in a new notice of hearing.
“(Service providers) could still offer pre-assembled packages.”
At the same time, the regulator is proposing allowing local TV stations to shut down their transmitters – a move that might not sit well with consumers who prefer to get their TV programming over the air.
And it proposes allowing television stations and networks to count revenues from online or other delivery platforms toward their overall revenue base.
The CRTC stresses that it has not yet decided which options it will enforce, and is giving the public until Sept. 19 to offer comments on the proposals online.
A public hearing will also be held in Gatineau, Que. on Sept. 8.
A number of companies, largely in Eastern Canada, already offer basic service plans and “pick-and-pay” options.
But some service providers have said they need the ability to rework contracts with television program suppliers if the CRTC wants true “pick-and-pay” pricing for consumers.
The regulator touches on that in its notice, proposing that program suppliers be banned from demanding “unreasonable penetration-based” rates for their programming.
Once new regulations are adopted, the CRTC said it expects them to come into force by December 2015.