On Monday March 22nd, 2010 the Toronto Star reported the long awaited “fee for carriage” results in the article CRTC backs TV over cable in fees dispute: Regulatory agency avoids imposing ‘fee for carriage’; leaves final decision up to Federal Court
What is happening here? Why did the CRTC spend a great deal of time and money providing a forum for the “fee for carriage” dog and pony show? Dog is right… one of the Twitter commentators was HoboLittlest If you read Hobo’s Twitter feed you can clearly see that he has gone to the dogs.
Remember all the attack ads and finger pointing where each side accused the other of greed and the broadcasters declared that “local TV Matters”? That led up to the CRTC hearings which presented an opportunity for the Cable/Satellite carriers to duke it out with the TV Channels/Networks.
The CRTC decided this “fee for carriage” issue by saying the cable companies have to start paying the TV networks. Surprisingly, the CRTC has said that payments needn’t be in cash, they may instead choose to barter. Wow. Barter. Wonder how Revenue Canada… ooops, the Canada Revenue Agency feels about that?
passing the buck
Then the CRTC says the “final decision” must be made by the Federal Court as the CRTC might lack authority to make the decision.
So the TV broadcasters think they’ve got it made in the shade.
Well, everyone except for the CBC. Because the CRTC quasi-decision specifically excluded the CBC from what CBC perceives will be a lucrative revenue stream.
Then a bad situation was made worse when the CRTC told broadcasters they must invest a percentage of the gross in Canadian Content. Presumably funds will come out of the “new income” from the cable companies. Except CRTC Chairman Konrad von Finckenstein never exactly explained how that would work if the new payments was made by barter.
As if that isn’t bad enough, the CRTC went on to reduce the total Canadian Content requirement by 5%.
I believe that Canadian Content regulations have turned out to be a very bad thing for Canadian Culture. If we must have Canadian Content laws, then the percentage must be high, at LEAST 80% for TV programming.
Scrapping CanCon altogether would be by far the best solution.
But the worst possible solution is to mandate a middling amount of CanCon and then chip away at it bit by bit. Which is of course the situation we actually have.
What is the CRTC playing at– they have decided to dictate what programming broadcasters must fund. Excuse me?
I thought the CRTC was supposed to regulate telecommunications for the benefit of Canadian consumers. Yet here they are dictating programming decisions. It isn’t the CRTC’s job to decide what programming is essential for Canadian audiences. It’s none of their business.
The only thing the CRTC seems intent on doing is avoiding blame.
What the CRTC is failing to do — again — is protect the interests of Canadian consumers.
There is only one pool of consumers in Canada. In the real world, the only people who will be stuck with additional fees will be the beleaguered Canadian consumer. Again. In a recession. I guess the CRTC hasn’t noticed that there is a recession on from their ivory tower.
What should the CRTC be doing? Certainly not allowing the price gouging that will inevitably come out of this. What they need to do is enter the 21st Century.
Cable TV, like Internet Service Providers, should not be providing content. Cable/Satellite should be the TV industry version of “dumb pipes”.
In this digital world, there is no earthly reason why consumers are forced to pay for 50* channels in order to get the two that they actually want. Why do we have to subsidize forty-eight channels to get two? Just think how great the two good channels would be if they got all of that money.
The cable companies have the technology to deliver individual channels, and in fact have had this capability for quite some time. It should not cost consumers more than $10 per month per channel that they actually want. But instead most Canadian families are paying between $50 and $200 per month for the tiered “packages” the are forced to subscribe to in order to get the few channels that they actually watch.
I really don’t get it. Why does the CRTC exist? As I understand it, the CRTC is supposed to protect consumers, because we do not have the lobbying power of the big monopolies. Yet instead CRTC regulations have led to Canadian consumers subsidizing a great deal of programming that they don’t want or need. This is ridiculous.
The CRTC is mouthing platitudes about “market forces” resolving these issues. Yet there are no true market forces in play here. The only reasonable way that “market forces” could possibly be the deciding factor would be for consumers to pay only for the content they consume.
Which is certainly not the case now.
The decline in broadcast television is largely due to the broadcaster’s reluctance to restructure for the 21st century. Instead of working out new business models, they have instead asked the CRTC for what is essentially a bailout. And the CRTC is giving it to them — at the expense of the Canadian consumer.
Why is the Canadian television audience shrinking? Many Canadians have given up on cable. Like me. Four years ago we decided the cable bill was just too high for what we were actually watching. Let me tell you, it is a lot cheaper to buy the DVDs you are actually going to watch than pay for cable that you don’t.
Interestingly enough, there is more to watch online than YouTube. Did you know that there is an awful lot of original content available legally online.
The Internet Canadian superhero series Team Epic is a program that my family watches. Hey, Canada isn’t exactly new to the superhero game, after all, Canadian-born artist Joe Shuster created Superman with his partner American writer Jerry Siegel in 1932
But that’s not all, there are all sorts of other online programming on LIFEFORCE[tv]. There is quite a lot of original made-for-the-Internet programming out there. For free.
But surprisingly there is also an awful lot of online television programming provided direct from — you guessed it — the television broadcasters.
Broadcasters like Global TV
The CRTC is also responsible for regulating the Internet. Yet the CRTC has allowed the Canadian Internet monopolies (essentially the same cast of characters who own the tv industry) to:
(a) discriminate against certain customers by selectively “throttling” the service these consumers are paying for
(b) deployment of Deep Packet Inspection to achieve this discrimination [DPI is of course illegal in Europe because of the invasion of consumer privacy it allows]
(c) encourage the monopolies to cap customers bandwidth consumption as a means of forcing Canadians to use the Internet less
(d) granted provisional approval of Usage Based Billing (which will likely kill off the fledgling Independent Internet Service Providers)
Funny how the CRTC is not protecting the interests of Canadian Internet users.
Clearly the CRTC does not understand what is happening in the world of technology. What is worse, they are making absolutely no attempt to understand it.
Isn’t time to dissolve the CRTC?
Canada needs a regulatory body that can understand the technology and regulate in the best interests of Canadians.
What we have is the CRTC which regulates in the best interests of the Media/TV/Internet monopolies. If the CRTC continues down this road Canada’s economy will be in serious trouble.
*I chose “50 Channels” of cable programming as an example. Some people may only have to pay for 25 cable channels in order to get the two that they want to watch, while others might need to pay for seventy. Each cable package is different, but all discriminate against the consumer.
[Note: There will be more on CanCon coming in my new in the wind post later today.]