CRTC Wants Public Input On TV “Tax”…. Blah

The CRTC wants to hear from Canadians on how to fund local TV. As a result, they’ve set up a website where they want Canadians to log on and comment on the future of local TV until December 21st. Here’s why the CRTC is doing this in their own words:

The Canadian broadcasting system is evolving quickly, and some regulatory changes may prove necessary. The Commission is looking at various options, including the possibility of negotiations between local stations and cable and satellite companies to determine the value of signals, and the transition of television signals from analog to digital. With this online consultation, the CRTC is seeking the views of consumers and the industry on the impact such developments could have on:

  • the availability of local television services, including local news, information and public affairs programming
  • the ability to choose different types of channels and packages
  • the affordability of cable and satellite television services
  • the industry as it adapts to the new digital communications environment, and
  • the industry’s current or future business plans.

I guess the “TV Tax” that they implemented earlier this year didn’t go over so well. At least they’re trying to get some opinions from the general public.

Speaking of opinions, I have to change mine. Earlier this year I said this:

This is a poorly thought out tax. TV providers such as Rogers and Bell aren’t going to absorb this tax so you the Canadian consumer get hosed again. The CRTC needs to get a clue here and come up with a new way to finance local programming. Oh, by the way, there seems to be a lot of anger towards Rogers, Bell, Shaw, and Cogeco. That anger in my humble opinion is misplaced as the real bad guys in this are the CRTC. So if you want to be mad at somebody, fire an e-mail over to the CRTC and let them know how you feel.

I have to modify this somewhat. I still feel that this is a poorly thought out tax. But I no longer hold TV providers such as Rogers, Bell, Shaw, and Cogeco blameless. I think if the TV providers and the CRTC really want to do what’s in the public interest, they should stop forcing subscribers into packages and allow them to choose the TV channels that they want À la carte. That way the public can pay for the local programming that they want rather than being forced into “packages” full of channels that they don’t want. But I suspect that there’s little interest on the part of TV providers to do that as it helps to pad their profits.  And there’s little interest on the part of the CRTC to force them to do that. So I suspect that after December 21st you won’t see this request for public input mean much of anything. I wish both parties would prove me wrong, but I won’t hold my breath.

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