CRTC Says “TV Tax” Is Good To Go… Or Not….

The CRTC has made a decision about the “TV Tax” and I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you won’t like this one bit. According to the CRTC via this release, the “TV Tax” is good to go:

As part of its framework, the Commission has set out a market-based solution to allow private local television stations to negotiate with cable and satellite companies. Each television station would have the option of entering into negotiations to establish a fair value for the distribution of their programs.

“The current dispute between conventional broadcasters and distributors threatens the overall integrity of the broadcasting system,” said Mr. von Finckenstein. “Broadcasters and distributors have a symbiotic relationship. The time has come for them to put their differences aside and work together to ensure the continuation of conventional television, which Canadians clearly value.”

But wait. The CRTC has also decided that the Federal Court Of Canada has to decide if they even have jurisdiction:

During its proceeding, the CRTC received conflicting legal opinions as to whether it has the authority to implement a negotiation regime. Given that this issue is vital to the future of conventional television, the Commission has initiated a reference to the Federal Court of Appeal seeking clarification on its jurisdiction under the Broadcasting Act. The CRTC has asked the Court to consider its request on an expedited basis.

So let’s get this straight. The CRTC wants local broadcasters to charge for the programming that they provide, but they want someone else to decide if they can actually do it.

That’s uber lame.

It gets worse. If this goes through, Canadian consumers will get hit with a larger TV bill. Here’s what my least favorite company Bell Canada had to say about that via the CBC:

Monday’s decision riled the cable and satellite firms, (known as broadcast distribution undertakings, or BDUs), which have argued that — under the Broadcast Act — the CRTC doesn’t have the authority to force them to pay for conventional TV signals.

They have vowed that if the CRTC imposes any new fees, they will pass these directly on to consumers.

“It’s an inappropriate decision, and it’s bad for consumers,” said Mirko Bibic, Bell’s head of regulatory affairs, on Monday afternoon from Gatineau.

“We will argue that the CRTC doesn’t have the jurisdiction — I firmly believe they don’t — and hopefully, we’ll win in court.”

Lovely. I’m going to guess that Rogers, Telus, Shaw and Cogeco feel the same.

But I have a solution to this problem. Let broadcasters charge for their programming. But at the same time the TV providers have to, or be forced to allow consumers to pick the TV channels that they want rather than be forced into packages by the TV providers. That way consumers can decide if the broadcasters programming is worth whatever they’re charging. Broadcasters will have to step up their game or face extinction. Simple.

Of course I don’t see a sudden outbreak of common sense happening anytime soon, so Canadians will have to stay tuned to see what happens next.

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