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Canadian Gov Pushes Cable Companies Toward A La Carte
by Bill Neilson 09:00AM Monday May 05 2014
While Comcast CEO Brian Roberts has reiterated his stance about “a-la-carte” programming never happening, Canadian pay-TV subscribers may get that type of selection. Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission unveiled the latest report in its ongoing series entitled Let's Talk TV, in which it lays out a variety of options to change the rules for how television channels are sold to consumers.

Among them would be to compel cable companies to offer a small, all-Canadian basic service full of local, community and educational programming. You could upgrade to what the CRTC calls "discretionary programming services on a stand-alone basis" commonly known as where consumers buy individual channels.

This is not the first time that the CRTC has tried to push a-la-carte programming to Canadian customers. Just last year, Canadian Heritage Minister Shelley Glover made waves by promising that government would be urging Canadian regulators the CRTC to push Canadian Pay TV providers toward offering a-la-carte TV programming.

It went nowhere due to Canadian companies like Bell scare-mongering the public with how there would be "unintended consequences" if the Canadian government carries through on their effort. Such consequences as "1 million jobs lost!" and "$45 billion in TV advertising lost!" were frequently trumpeted by the company.

Setting aside the fact that we still do not know where those numbers actually came from, there was also no estimate of the job losses from the cable industry's efforts to keep innovative new video solutions from market nor did it analyze the consumer price impact of allowing a clearly broken TV pricing model to continue as if nothing is wrong.

No firm timeline for the proposal has been offered, as the CRTC is currently calling on the general public and industry players to comment on the different options.

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Mr Guy

@24.183.212.x

Let Canada do it first

Then let's see 3year out how much Canadians are supposedly saving. My guess is not much.
desarollo

join:2011-10-01
Monroe, MI

Re: Let Canada do it first

There isn't savings in ala carte, it is consumer empowerment in getting out of the "all or nothing" packaging and being forced into buying things one doesn't want in order to get the things one does want.

The current system offers reduced risk to the channels and little incentive to create compelling content. The current spate of ridiculous reality programming would have run its course if the channels would have to answer a little more for their business decisions.

Imagine how good it would feel to tell TruTV to shove their scripted horse chip reality shows by removing it from what you pay.

Edrick
I aspire to tell the story of a lifetime
Premium
join:2004-09-11
Woburn, MA

Re: Let Canada do it first

said by desarollo:

Imagine how good it would feel to tell TruTV to shove their scripted horse chip reality shows by removing it from what you pay.

The unfortunate reality from someone who works in Network Television is that people want those shows. There's definitely a strong populus online that doesn't. However the people who are on sites like this to voice their opinion are usually of higher caliber and unfortunately in lower numbers. I run into this all the time when we try to pitch or create a show, people want mind numbing television. If we pitch a show it better me stupid, mind numbing and it's about the bizarre screwed up people as opposed to the content.

Duck Dynasty anyone?
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Skippy25

join:2000-09-13
Hazelwood, MO

Re: Let Canada do it first

Well people can want all they desire. However, if there are not enough people that want it that make it economically feasible to provide it, the tough nuggets. They don't get it or can wait for it to come out in a more economical platform.

Mr Guy

@24.183.212.x
said by desarollo:

There isn't savings in ala carte, it is consumer empowerment in getting out of the "all or nothing" packaging and being forced into buying things one doesn't want in order to get the things one does want.

If you ask people that support al a carte 99% want it because they think they are going to save money. If you tell al a carte supporters that they'll pay the same price they'll just have fewer channels most won't be for that.
CXM_Splicer
Looking at the bigger picture
Premium
join:2011-08-11
NYC
kudos:2

Re: Let Canada do it first

They don't offer ala carte now because they WILL lose money. If they could make the same or more with ala carte, we would have it today.
Rakeesh

join:2011-10-30
Mesa, AZ
Reviews:
·Sprint Mobile Br..
·Cox HSI

Re: Let Canada do it first

A la carte is already here...just not on cable. Companies like Netflix and Amazon have already started going down this cable independent content creation road, and more are starting to pick it up (Sony and Microsoft have both indicated interest in doing this.)

It will probably take another decade before it is fully realized, but it's coming all the same.

We don't need the government to intervene here. The two models will exist side by side, and we can let the market decide which is superior. IMO that is the best way to let things happen.
elray

join:2000-12-16
Santa Monica, CA

Re: Let Canada do it first

Netflix and Amazon do not offer the same content one views on pay-tv.

DaMaGeINC
The Lan Man
Premium
join:2002-06-08
Greenville, SC
kudos:2
said by Rakeesh:

A la carte is already here...just not on cable.

Bit Torrent!!! AL LA CARTE at its finest! Coupled with a 15TB file-server and DLNA(Serviio) Could not be happier! I get what I want when I want it! No $$$ Involved. FU%K Cable and AD'S. MORE POWER TO ME!
--
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Edrick
I aspire to tell the story of a lifetime
Premium
join:2004-09-11
Woburn, MA

Re: Let Canada do it first

Except when we stop making content or funding content because no ones paying for advertising revenue or even for the content period. Unless you want your shows full of paid sponsor product placement.

DaMaGeINC
The Lan Man
Premium
join:2002-06-08
Greenville, SC
kudos:2

Re: Let Canada do it first

said by Edrick:

Except when we stop making content or funding content because no ones paying for advertising revenue or even for the content period. Unless you want your shows full of paid sponsor product placement.

If I could download whatever I wanted when I wanted it with no AD's and was cheap, I would pay for it. Unfortunately nothing like that exist. So I do it my way.
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I can explain it to you, but I cant understand it for you.

Edrick
I aspire to tell the story of a lifetime
Premium
join:2004-09-11
Woburn, MA

Re: Let Canada do it first

I know where you're coming from, I don't disagree with your method haha was just saying it's one of those unfortunate double edged situations. On one end the content owners don't want to make their content accessible in a reasonable manner on the other if we pirate too much they claim they'll stop making the content

DaMaGeINC
The Lan Man
Premium
join:2002-06-08
Greenville, SC
kudos:2

Re: Let Canada do it first

Luckily we have "Sheeple" to pay for the "dumb tv".
elray

join:2000-12-16
Santa Monica, CA
Wrong.
They don't offer a la carte, because the content owners don't permit it.
CXM_Splicer
Looking at the bigger picture
Premium
join:2011-08-11
NYC
kudos:2

Re: Let Canada do it first

How many content owners are there? Do two or three own all the channels and dictate terms to the cable companies? How did that work when the Weather Channel pulled all of their channels from DirecTV?
elray

join:2000-12-16
Santa Monica, CA
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·EarthLink

Re: Let Canada do it first

Yes, they do.

Most sought-after content is discrete, unique and proprietary; it is not a commodity, you can't buy/rent/license the content from multiple sources, so the studio and network owners of said content may, I say *may* enjoy pricing power, given that the distributors get the blame in the court of public opinion, and the majority of households just shrug and auto-pay.

Inconsequential, duplicative, ephemeral content, i.e. "News" and "Weather", (emphasis on quotes) is slightly more subject to market forces, which is why you can point to the former exception of The Weather Channel.

coldmoon
Premium
join:2002-02-04
Broadway, NC
Reviews:
·Windstream
Actually it might simplify a lot of lives when you consider the time savings when they only need to choose between a select number of channels they have chosen rather than an endless hunt through 250+ channels.

time is money Mr. Guy
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Mr Guy2

@66.249.88.x
said by Mr Guy :

Then let's see 3year out how much Canadians are supposedly saving. My guess is not much.

And when it comes to channels and networks NOT headquartered in Canada? How will Canada force Disney, for example, to sell them a la carte channels and not bundle them like they do in US. Canadian cable companies could lose a ton of available content if US content providers won't go along.

Jason Levine
Premium
join:2001-07-13
USA

Re: Let Canada do it first

The same way they would for channels and networks headquartered in Canada. If Canadian law is written to forbid bundling - or to at least allow for purchasing separate channels regardless of bundling offers - then the US-based channels/networks will need to comply to do business in Canada. They can't try to do business in Canada by pointing to US law.
--
-Jason Levine

Mr Guy2

@66.249.88.x

Re: Let Canada do it first

And if they decide NOT to do business in Canada?

coldmoon
Premium
join:2002-02-04
Broadway, NC
Reviews:
·Windstream

Re: Let Canada do it first

Well, then it would be time for Canadian media companies to produce more content for their market and the US companies will be SOL.

Nothing more focusing than a hammer to the head in relation to your regional revenue stream than to have to compete; especially when that competition will include more pirating of content they cannot get.

Word of advice for US providers would be to get off their a**** and evolve or go extinct...
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tshirt
Premium,MVM
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:5
said by Mr Guy2 :

And if they decide NOT to do business in Canada?

Gonna be watching a lot of red green, and the poutine cooking channel and then there are all the fine local public access shows.
Candew

join:2005-09-23
N. America

Believe it When I see it

Given the CDN Government's own apparent lack of interest in defending their wireless bill of rights in the Court of Appeals, you will forgive me if I am just a tad skeptical that this will go anywhere.
cablemanf250

join:2013-07-15

Not going to happen

They would have to have all the networks agree to it, each package for example, Disney owns 15-20 channels, they pay Disney so much $$ for their channels, Disney would have to break it down by channel and the most expensive would be ESPN then Disney Chn. and so on, your bill would get larger for less channels, You all forget Cable, Dish, do not control the Channels, of Price & Placement on the Line-up, the Networks do.

BeerBelli

@66.55.134.x

45 Billion not spent on advertising...

Good! Spend that money on something useful. Donate it all to pet shelters.
NefCanuck

join:2007-06-26
Mississauga, ON
Reviews:
·voip.ms

A'la carte, for real?

With the amount of vertical integration in Canada between the BDU and the channels themselves, I'm not sure that there will be a net decrease in the number of people employed in the incestuous world of broadcasting in Canada, due to teh CAnadian content and language requirements...

Unless the Canadian government gets really snippy and does what I think should be done, forcing the BDU's into breaking out the sports channels and offering *them* a'la carte.

That would truly set things on fire because it is the sports channels that do two things:

1) Allow people who don't want to watch sports the opportunity to either reduce their bill or spend the $ on other channels

2) Allow the people who want to watch only sports to do just that and not indirectly support endless re-runs of "Bridezilla" or whatever other reality crap the BDU's that also own the sports channels produce on the other channels that they own (or buy from the US/abroad)

Now, this in theory should result in what everyone wants, since sports and their licensing fees are among the biggest cost drivers.

That being said... I doubt it'll happen until and unless the BDU's wake up and see the internet for what it is, another method to distribute their content and get paid for it (which again works out well up here because the same BDU's are the biggest ISP's going up here)

I mean hell, I've gone OTA here and barely miss cable except for the one or two live sporting events that I'd *like* to see (Notice I said "like" not "need")

NefCanuck
elefante72

join:2010-12-03
East Amherst, NY

Re: A'la carte, for real?

Great points. If the "debundle" the entire concept of a channel erodes over time as well. Even within a channel I may only watch one show, so do I need to subscribe to the entire thing? Nope.

This would actually be good for casual sports watchers. They could offer on demand for say big sporting events or the person that likes to see their team if they are winning (the follow-on sports person).

Debundling would also allow more niche sports to be offered ondemand, but it would right-size the big sports. Which isn't bad because a basketball player getting $60m for one year is just obscene. The list goes on.

I couldn't fathom how LA Clippers were bought for $12m in 1981. Adjusted for inflation that is around $28m, but the team is now valued at almost $600m (20x valuation). And the community buids the stadiums on the tax payers backs too... Well guess what that is money sucked out of the pockets of every cable subscriber. I have never seen a clippers game, ever but must of put hundreds in Sterlings pocket.. Disgusting.

Probitas

@206.248.154.x

1 recommendation

looking forward to it

I hardly watch the damn thing anyway. If we only had to pay for the few channels we watch I'm betting we save money, and if they decided to charge more for less, that would be enough to get me to just cancel it.

NOYB
St. John 3.16
Premium
join:2005-12-15
Forest Grove, OR
kudos:1

1 edit

Mr. Roberts' Statement is Incorrect

"Comcast CEO Brian Roberts has reiterated his stance about “a-la-carte” programming never happening"

Mr. Brian Roberts' statement is wrong. The key to knowing this is the use of the word "never". Any time someone says "never" or "always" they are almost always wrong. Never is a very long time and things change. "A-la-carte" programming will happen eventually. It's just a matter of time.

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Cloneman

join:2002-08-29
Montreal
kudos:4
Reviews:
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·Bell Fibe

devil is in the details...

A la Carte is already available in some form in Quebec, videotron and Bell Fibe, which both let you choose individual channels.

The issue is, you have to buy 30$ of base packages to get access to a - la -carte content. A ruling forcing a la carte is moot if there's no specification of a maximum price on the base package