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CRTC puts TV service providers on shorter leash with yearly license renewal

CRTC puts TV service providers on shorter leash with yearly license renewal 

The regulator also reminded the service providers that instead of the usual seven-year term, it will now be renewing broadcast licences on a yearly basis.

“This will enable the CRTC to closely monitor the TV providers; practices as they implement the new TV choices,” a statement from the regulator said.

Since March 1, this year, customers were given to choices to subscribe to an affordable basic TV package that costs no more than $25 per month (not including equipment). Cable and satellite companies must offer channels either or in packages of up to 10 channels.

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The CRTC released the list of best practices after receiving numerous consumer complaints about the new $25 basic TV service packages offered by providers. For example, many subscribers complained that they felt they were charged exorbitant fees when they chose to add other channels to their basic packages.

The commission said a second license renewal proceeding to examine a broad range of issues will be conducted in 2017.

The new best practices should, among other things, provide information on the new choice that will be available to customers starting December 1 this year.

“All broadcasting distribution undertakings (BDUs), also known as television service providers (TVSPs), are required to offer programming services in a way that is consistent with the Commission’s regulations, including provisions that reflect its policy on choice for Canadian television consumers (the Policy),” according to the CRTC. “The aim of this policy is to put control of television back in the hands of Canadians, providing them with the freedom to choose the television content that meets their unique needs and household budgets.”

 The best practices list released by the CRTC, are:

  • Providers must keep the packages they offer simple
  • Provide consumers adequate information about the new TV choices
  • Offer discounts and services regardless of whether customers subscribe to the basic packages of the larger offerings
  • Let customers know if they can return to previous channel packages. If they can’t, providers must help customers build a new package that is similar to the one they had before.
  • Allow customers to easily manage their TV services. Make it easy for customers to add or remove channels online.
  • Offer different options such as rental, rent-to-own, or purchase for set-top boxes.

Priced at no more than $25/month (excluding equipment) the basic packages include:

  • Local and regional TV stations
  • Channels with mandatory distribution
  • Community and provincial legislature channels (where available)
  • Provincial/territorial educational channels

The may also include:

  • Other Canadian over-the-air stations
  • Local AM and FM radio stations
  • American networks (ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC) and PBS
  • Educational channels of another province or territory in each official language (if none is offered)

The CRTC also provided subscribers with helpful tips on negotiating with providers for a better deal as well as a checklist for shopping around for a provider.

5 steps for negotiation a better deal

Checklist before shopping around for TV services

Options to watch TV (online too!)

The CRTC also wants subscribers to have access to perks such as video, as well as the ability to combine TV packages with other services in a discount bundle.

“The commission considers that discount practices that make the small basic service a more onerous option than larger [TV packages] are inconsistent with the policy,” according to the CRTC.

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