Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Kommissar von Finckenstein

The notion that the Chairman of CRTC, Konrad von Finckenstein, feels that "Canadians can afford higher cable fess" is confirmation that Ottawa has gone berserk.

This arbitrary ruling is absurd on so many levels.

First, a lot of what is broadcast by Canadian commercial TV producers, like CTVGlobemedia and Global is propaganda to start with, like the BS that is spun about outright lies like tax leakage from income trusts. Why would I want to pay for propaganda? Propaganda on networks that I avoid watching like the plague? Propaganda that shouldn't exist in the first place and now I am being forced to subsidize those who put their commercial interests ahead of reporting the truth and are happy to spin the government's lies when it suits their purposes.

Second, the idea that the cable companies and the local networks should negotiate a fee for the broadcaster's signal leaves out one important party to those negotiations namely the party who is going to pay for the "service": i.e. the consumer, since whatever fee is agreed to by the cable companies will simply be passed on to the consumer (probably with some handling charges, given we are dealing with cable companies here!).

And third, where is it in the CRTC's mandate to impose regimes that see consumers pay more and get nothing in return? The CRTC is supposed to protect consumers, not fleece them.

Canadians can afford higher cable fees, CRTC says

By Jamie Sturgeon,
Financial Post
March 24, 2010

Cable subscribers have shrugged at rate increases in the past and might be willing to do so again if new fees are passed on to them, the national broadcast regulator suggested Tuesday.

In a report submitted to the federal cabinet, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) said it does not believe "that significant affordability issues would be created" for consumers if a new compensation regime is introduced as early as next year.

Called "value for signal" or "fee for carriage," the new system would see big cable firms such as Rogers Communications Inc. and Shaw Communications Inc., for the first time, pay conventional-TV networks such as Global and CTV Inc. a fee for station signals.

On Monday, the CRTC moved to adopt the measure to help offset declining revenues at network-TV stations and preserve the Canadian content they produce.

Tuesday's report stems from a rare order-in-council from Heritage Canada in September and a subsequent public hearing in December.

The Harper Conservatives have been cautious about supporting a CRTC ruling that would raise costs for consumers and create a potential backlash from voters.

But the regulator's decision would almost certainly do just that, causing "modest price increases" for cable.

But Canadians may be willing to eat the charge, the CRTC's submission suggests.

The average cable rate was $53.22 a month last year, according to CRTC figures. That's up almost 50 per cent since 2002 when rates were deregulated, representing an annual rise of 5.6 per cent to the average bill.

"Such results do not seem to suggest a significant withdrawal of demand for [cable or satellite] television services when consumers are faced with rate increases," the CRTC said.

The rise has helped lift revenues and profits at the major cable firms. Now, with the fortunes of networks dimming, the CRTC aims to buoy the entire system with a new negotiation regime similar to one that exists in the United States.

The CRTC has put the decision to the Federal Court of Appeal, which it has asked to determine whether it has the jurisdiction to impose what some term a new "TV tax."

The move opens up a new battleground on which the broadcast and cable-satellite consortiums will continue the years-long fight over fees for over-the-air station signals.

Mirko Bibic, senior vice-president of regulatory affairs at BCE Inc., which operates satellite service Bell TV, said the telecommunications giant is preparing its case.

Phil Lind, vice-chairman of Rogers Communications Inc., the largest cable company in the country, also said the company would fight the decision in court.

Neither CTV or Global could not be reached for comment. (Global is owned by Canwest Global Communications Corp., parent of the National Post.)

The most critical scrutiny, however, could come from the federal government, which has the option of overturning Monday's decision.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper reiterated his party's position during question period on Tuesday.

The government, he said, is "concerned about anything that imposes fees on consumers without their consent."

The price tag on individual station signal is anyone's guess. Specialty channels such as TSN and HGTV command upwards of $1 or more a month, a fee lumped into a customer's cable bill.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun


Dr Mike said...

It never ceases to amaze me that when discussions take place that will have it`s ultimate effect on us , that we are never involved in those discussions.

No one asks us , we just get the "result".

The unfortunate thing is that the "result" usually is us with less money & those that are involved in the discussions have more money.

We must be idiots for putting up with this crap.

Dr Mike Popovich

penlan said...

"Cable subscribers have shrugged at rate increases in the past and might be willing to do so again if new fees are passed on to them, the national broadcast regulator suggested Tuesday."

Not me. If this happens I'll get rid of the 2 pkgs. I have to defray the cost & bring my bill back to where it was before the fee was imposed. And it wouldn't surpeise me if other customers did the same.

Anonymous said...

When is the customer going to be allowed to choose the channels he/she wants to watch. I am sick and tired of all the junk there is on TV that we are forced to sign up for. Packaging does not work for the customer. Let us pick our own channels to watch. Get rid of those stupid, ignorant, male bashing commercials that we are forced to watch every day, over and over.

Anonymous said...

Great use of the word absurd.

Excellent points about way too much advertising to suffer through before getting any programming content. Not to mention how crappy too many programs are. i.e. Anything Amanada Lang has been part of ... LOL.

As an experiment we canceled our satellite service almost 2 years ago. We honestly thought it would be re-connected in 3 months. Wrong ... we didn't miss it enough.

You can easily get your T.V. fix for free at your doctor's or dentist's office, the gym, restaurants, bars, the mall, many stores or going over to a friend's place who still has service. There is way more interesting stuff and for free on the net. DVDs are also free at the local library. Libraries always need higher circulation numbers. The library is one of the few ways get use of tax dollars.

With this new tax and the upcoming HST for Ontario and B.C., the government, advertisers and cable companies take this new tax and all the stupid expensive packages and shove it. Still not interested in paying one red cent for garbage programming and annoying ads.

DidiM said...

I've been living a nightmare for over 6 months with Videotron - I will be writing a blog about it - but in short, because there is NO Way to get a WRITTEN agreement from Videotron (or Bell etc..) of ANY KIND - the agents can BILL YOU whatever they want - and then you're left to fight the company to make the correction. The PROBLEM is - it is IMPOSSIBLE to reach the same agent - no matter how many messages you leave them! I was forced to write the President of Videotron to try to get SOMEONE to call me back... which ended up in being close to brutalized into accepting a 2 year contract - in order to get the $283.00 Videotron owed me - credited to my account! I STILL don't know if the agreement has been honored because the agent (a supervisor) refused to send a written confirmation! This is the 10th., or 11th., time I've been promised that the corrections will be made!
Videotron - can send anyone's name to Equifax - anytime they like - and it's obvious they can charge, overcharge whenever and however they like - and the consumer is left holding a dirty stinking bag - with very little recourse, That is what the CRTC has done for us - Joe Public!
The irony here is, we are paying these guys BIG BUCKS to screw us!
The next irony is: Try to reach any of the Execs at the CRTC and you're also screwed.
There has to be a way to stop this abuse and violation of agreements. Why can the consumer NOT GET AN AGREEMENT IN WRITING - to confirm ones RATES?
We are buying a service - and paying dearly for it - and yet are unable to see what were buying and getting? WTF???