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Bruce, Caroline

Are Carriage Fees the Answer?

It's called a carriage fee. Essentially, what it amounts to is that
local TV broadcasters in Canada want to charge cable/satellite
companies, and, by extension, consumers, to carry local TV stations. On
the surface, and at first glance, it sounds reasonable enough. You pay
for what you carry. But consider a few facts:

  • The CRTC currently requires that cable and satellite
    companies broadcast local channels. The broadcasters want this, it takes
    their signals where they might not otherwise go. What broadcasters want
    now is for these local channels to be forced on us, then to charge us
    for the privilege.
  • Local channels are to get top billin in terms of cable channel real
    estate. This means that local channels must be carried between channels
    2 and 13 by cable companies.
  • Simultaneous substitution regulations also stipulate that if an
    American channel airs the same show as a Canadian channel, the Canadian
    channel's signal is to be substituted for the American channel. This
    means that we might be tuned into ABC, but if CTV is airing the same
    show, we'll be watching CTV whether we want to or not.
  • Cable and satellite companies are already required to contribute to
    funds available to broadcasters to produce Canadian programming.


I'm not writing in defense of the cable and satellite companies here.
They want to grab our money just as much as the broadcasters do. But I
am speaking out against having channels forced on cable and satellite
subscribers with a plethora of protectionist measures thrown in and no
choice on the matter, and then to be expected to pay for that over which
we have no choice. The broadcasters say that consumers won't be paying
extra. Bullbleep. As the late great Paul Harvey was fond of saying,
businesses don't pay taxes, people do.

But the CRTC is getting good at this. They've already imposed a fee of
twenty cents per every single Cable/satellite subscriber, non-voluntary,
to finance The Accessible Channel, a channel set up to broadcast
fourth-rate programs in described video twenty-four hours a day. If you
go to their Website and look at their
excuse for a schedule, you'll see how the consumer is again being ripped
off by the regulator who seem to give NBRS, the organization behind The
Accessible Channel, anything and everything they ask for.

What the CRTC needs to start doing is realize that there are three
parties involved: there are the cable and satellite companies, the
broadcasters, and then this little group that seems to have been
forgotten called the consumer. The CRTC seems to think that we have
infinite funds available to fork out to whatever greedy organization or
association can't figure out how to fund itself. At some point, this is
all going to backfire, and Canadians will revolt and dump TV entirely. I
subscribe to TV at the moment through my phone company. But I am no
means a TV addict. IF new regulations to satisfy the greedy suck more
money out of my already meagre pockets, losing TV won't be a terrible
heartbreak to me. You have to prioritize. As far as I'm concerned,
Canadian broadcasters can go suck eggs if they think I'm going to start
funding them. Watching Degrassi, The Twelfth Generation and Karaoke
Canada (Canadian Idol) is not worth forking out my hard-earned dollars
for. If they want to start charging a carriage fee for local channels,
then give me the choice to opt out of the local channels if I so choose.
If they're going to start charging me, get rid of all the other
protectionist restrictions that benefit the broadcaster.

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