News Release Article from  Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

Archived - Statement from Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman and CEO of the CRTC, on maximizing choice and affordability for Canadians

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March 19, 2015 – Ottawa-Gatineau – Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)

Good afternoon.

In 2013, we launched Let's Talk TV to ensure the television system adapts to technological change and to viewers' changing habits and preferences. We received more than 13,000 comments from Canadians during the various phases of the conversation. Today's decision reflects what that we have heard from Canadians.

More and more Canadians are watching the content they want, when they want, and on multiple devices. They are enjoying the freedom and benefits that come from living in a World of Choice.

They told us that the bundles offered by the cable and satellite companies were large, unwieldy and expensive. They expressed frustration that, in order to access a particular channel, they had to buy others that they didn't want.

Today's decision is all about choice and affordability.

By March 2016, Canadians will have access to an entry-level television service that costs no more than $25 per month. This service will prioritize the local and regional news and information programming that so vitally connects viewers with their cities, their provinces, their territories, their country and their world.

Canadians will be able to build on the entry-level service by buying the individual channels they want either on a pick-and-pay basis or through small, reasonably priced bundles. By the same token, they can also keep the offerings they currently have.

By December 2016, Canadians will be able to subscribe to channels on a pick-and-pay basis, as well as in small packages.

The CRTC is not making choices for Canadians. It is setting out a roadmap to give all Canadians the freedom to choose the television content that meets their unique needs, budgets and realities.

Here are some examples of how this might play out for various groups of television viewers:

  • A college or university student may supplement free over-the-air television with online video services.
  • A young urban professional may decide to only pay for one or two channels on top of the entry-level service.
  • A family of four with varied interests might supplement its entry-level television service by building their own packages—educational programs for the children; news, sports, information and lifestyle content for the parents.
  • Their neighbour may decide that the channels they currently receive meet their needs and make no changes to their television services.
  • And the retired couple down the street may decide to augment their entry-level service with a bundle of national news services.

In short, Canadians will be able to find the right value proposition for their household.

Today's announcement, combined with the other changes we recently announced, will lead to an even more dynamic marketplace.

One in which there are incentives: for television service providers to offer reasonably priced services that meet the diverse needs and interests of Canadians; for creators to produce high-quality, original content that is compelling to audiences; for Canadians to switch service providers if they are not satisfied, without having to give 30-days notice; and for Canadians to choose over-the-air television as a free, competitive alternative.

Before I conclude, let me add that a fundamental pillar in today's decision is a wholesale code of conduct that will come into force in September 2015. This code will clarify the terms of wholesale agreements negotiated by broadcasters and television service providers. For example, it ensures that service providers offer independently-owned channels in at least one theme package and assures that channels cannot be taken away from subscribers during a wholesale commercial dispute.

Such a framework is critical to ensuring that viewers continue to discover and enjoy access to a diversity of programming.

Ladies and gentlemen, today's decision is another important step forward for Canada's television system. It will give Canadian viewers even more control over the choice in, and affordability of, their services.

If you have any questions, I would be pleased to answer them now. Thank you.

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