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Canadian Telcos Lobby Against Pick-and-Pay TV

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the netcraft-confirms-broadcast-media-is-dying dept.

Canada 244

silentbrad writes with an excerpt from the Financial Post: "BCE Inc., Rogers Communications Inc., and Shaw Communications Inc. which together control two-thirds of the $8.3-billion broadcast distribution market, are lobbying against the so-called 'a la carte' model that would allow customers to pick and pay for individual networks, arguing the change would have disastrous consequences for programmers, such as Bell Media and Shaw Media. 'A regulation requiring that all programming services must be made available to consumers on a stand-alone basis would have far-reaching ramifications,' BCE, whose Bell owns 30 specialty networks, said in a submission to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. 'Undoubtedly, a market shake-out, causing many specialty services to exit, would ensue.' The three big players, led by BCE, have told the CRTC they support the status quo of 'tied selling,' or the practice of grouping weaker-performing networks in with a popular channels, versus a new approach to sell channels individually. ... In the race for subscription dollars, rates for TV services across providers have risen sharply over the last decade as the number of specialty channels, each commanding its own fee, has soared. Net costs to subscribers climbed another 2.6% in 2011, while average bills now hover around $60 a month."

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ORly? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39599273)

Existing companies support existing profit structure? I'm shocked. Shocked I say!

what's broadcast? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39599277)

I can watch ponies on youtube or netflix... haven't had cable since 2008.

Re:what's broadcast? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39599545)

I also ducked out on satellite. It's streaming and over the air local channels with a UHF antenna for me now.

I use a Roku box (actually a couple of them), and have a Netflix and Amazon subscription.

I haven't ever looked back and certainly don't miss all the religious and shopping channels.

With streaming I can do a la carte subscriptions. Cable and satellite need to get with the program or wither and die on the vine.

Re:what's broadcast? (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#39600097)


My antenna gives me 40+ channels*. Hulu gives me the various cable shows (mostly Syfy stuff). Comcast can go suck it. ;-)

* abc, cbs, nbc, fox, cw, myNetworkTV, ion, univision, telmundo, telefutura, 24 hours news, RT, France24, NHK, PBS 1,2,3,4 (various documentary/education channels), Life, Wellness, Qubo, thisTV (oldmovies), Retro (70s/80s shows), AntennaTV (50s/60s), coolTV (musicvideos), Trinity, SmileofaChild, JCTV, Enlace, ChurchChannel, a channel that plays nothing but old synidicated shows (Xena, Hercules, Davinci, Trek, SG1), and a bunch of other channels I've forgotten.

My favorite channels are the Retro ones plus movies plus RT or France24 for news. And the Top 5 broadcast networks.

Re:what's broadcast? (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#39599957)

Funny how A la carte works in the U.S. but for some reason can't work in Canada.

There are a few city and county governments that mandate a la carte be an option. The customer pays a flat rate of ~$10 which incudes all the free shopping and broadcast channels. Then they typically pay $2 extra for each cable channel added.

So for example if I wanted Syfy plus TNT, I would pay $14 a month for a total of ~27 channels (my local market). It's a big savings over paying $60 for 70 channels.

Re:what's broadcast? (2)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 2 years ago | (#39599987)

Funny how A la carte works in the U.S. but for some reason can't work in Canada.

Wow...where do you live in the US where they offer A la carte cable?

I've never seen it offered anywhere I've been in the US....

Re:what's broadcast? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39600163)

The argument is that if you allowed Pick and Pay for individual channels in Canada then Canadian content would die. The CRTC in Canada is charged with maintaining that a certain amount or Canadian produced content be aired lest we become clones of the American Cultural Overlords. Frankly, we still have cable, pay for the extra packages of channels but hardly ever watch the actual Canadian content anyway. It's bloody boring and technically inferior to the American produced shows. (Yes, I know that some of those shows are produced in Canada but since they are produced in Canada by an American Production Company, they are made to American Standards and do not count as Canadian Content.)

The more we hear of streaming TV the more likely it is that we'll soon dump the extra channels and go with Netflix or some such service as well but we'd have to get some internet streaming capable devices into the house first..

Dur (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39599293)

Of course they lobby aginst it..

Nobody actually WANTS to pay for all those shopping, religious nut, cable access bullshit channels.

And yet someone has to pay for them. Because we can't just tell those channel execs 'your channel sucks and nobody wants it, we're dropping it'.

So they stay. And we all get to pay for crap we never wanted.

Re:Dur (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 2 years ago | (#39599619)

Its pretty cheeky alright, an $8.3 billion market, paid for by consumers, and now these guys want to push lawmakers to ensure that the people who pay the bills don't get to control the content. This is why I haven't watched TV in 3 years.

Re:Dur (4, Insightful)

DesScorp (410532) | about 2 years ago | (#39599709)

Of course they lobby aginst it..

Nobody actually WANTS to pay for all those shopping, religious nut, cable access bullshit channels.

And yet someone has to pay for them. Because we can't just tell those channel execs 'your channel sucks and nobody wants it, we're dropping it'.

So they stay. And we all get to pay for crap we never wanted.

I think you're operating under a delusion here. Most of the country is quite religious, and thus the "religious nut" channels would do just fine under a "pick and pay" plan. So would the shopping channels (You think the shopping channels would die? Do you know any women at all?). Public access would probably be thrown in for free anyway, as they don't really cost much. You seem to think that the rest of the country thinks and feels as you do, and... I doubt that the case. Things like religious networks and sports networks would thrive.

No, what would have a harder time surviving are narrow interest, boutique channels. Things like "The International Film Channel" and such. Even the SyFy network might tank, as people would have to ask themselves "do I really want to pay for stuff like Megacroc vs. Giantshark"?

I've long wanted a cable cafeteria plan, as I'd pay for maybe three dozen channels and chuck the rest. I don't find anything on network TV worth watching anyway, so my DVR is filled with classic films from TCM, and things like certain sporting events and documentaries. I think there are more cable customers like me than you in the United States. Your MTV2's and CurrentTV would be in Heap Big Trouble in a market where people had to actually pay for them individually, methinks. If you like the boutique channels, maybe you should be thankful for the current system.

Re:Dur (5, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#39599805)

No, what would have a harder time surviving are narrow interest, boutique channels. Things like "The International Film Channel" and such. Even the SyFy network might tank, as people would have to ask themselves "do I really want to pay for stuff like Megacroc vs. Giantshark"?

Netflix easily replaces all of that for under $10/month. Amazon video gets even more of them. Channels are pointless in 2012. Why pay for stuff that is broadcast while you are at work? It should be ala carte for individual episodes/seasons/movies.

Re:Dur (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39599861)

I was going to post something quite similar to what you did. However, I'll defer as you have voiced my opinion exactly.

Re:Dur (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39599935)

Then the most profitable thing to do in this case. (assuing what you said was true)

Is to bundle the religious nut channels into the high tier premium packages like HBO. Gotta buy HBO to get the preachy channels.
Never happened. Because what you said isnt true. nobody, even the religious nuts. will pay for these channels.

They exist just so the cable companies can point to their list and say 'LOOK WE HAVE 200 CHANNELS AVAILABLE!' Also some sort of write off in there im sure.

Re:Dur (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 years ago | (#39600249)

Nobody needs cable for religious nut channels. They are some of the strongest channels being broadcast. It's rather frustrating really. The major networks you can't get but the fundie and spanish channels all come in 5 by 5.

Re:Dur (5, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 2 years ago | (#39600289)

Damn - spent all the mod points yesterday. :)

I would add to that the prediction that most of the flagship Discovery Network channels would likely still rake in the monies (Discovery, Science, Travel, History, TLC, etc). TBS would hold out okay as well, but mostly because they're smart enough to capture and re-run the good sitcoms and dramas). Comedy Channel? It would probably do okay. Cartoon Network? Adult Swim (usually) makes it worth keeping. NatGeo? Likely would do okay, but that's only semi-certain.

I think channels like Univision and Telemundo would do pretty well also, but channels that cater to other ethnicities (Vietnamese, Korean, Persian, Russian, etc) would likely wither pretty quickly. Lifetime, Oxygen, and all the estrogen-laced channels? The channels in that niche would go all Highlander on each other (as in: there can be only one!). Others that would also see some hard intra-niche fighting would be Animal Planet vs. NatGeo Wild.

SyFy would die a well-deserved death, as would MTV (no, seriously - fuck 'em. Aside from Jackass, IMHO they've contributed little-to-nothing since 1995 or so that would justify its continued existence). Golf channel? Yeah, it'll die, but slowly (at the same rate its fan base does). The Weather Channel? Sadly, but yeah it'll die, or at least its TV component likely would.

The *really* niche stuff? Likely dead on arrival: Tennis channel, NASA channel, SOAP Network, etc.

All said though, I really don't mind a lot, with one caveat: The survivors would concentrate on either the lowest common denominator (booo!) or on producing the best damned content available. OTOH, from a parenting perspective, it returns power to Mom and Dad ("Dear teenage kid: if you want to watch that channel here, it'll cost you $n per month, so I suggest you go get a job.")

Re:Dur (1)

peragrin (659227) | about 2 years ago | (#39600323)

Dufy channel doesn't do mega shark vs Jurassic croc any more. That is too hardcore.

Now all you get is wrestling. At least it is on a fatansy land channel.

Serious SYFY hasn't had anything good on in 6 months

Re:Dur (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39599839)

No reason to drop it. They'll just have to compete, for a change.

Can't get more than 20 old grandma's to watch your 24/7 religious fundraising channel, or that twelfth home shopping channel? Guess you better figure out how to make a winning channel, or gtfo.

I so want to live in Canada right now.

So what? (4, Insightful)

mewsenews (251487) | about 2 years ago | (#39599319)

Why are the popular channels subsidizing poor-performing specialty channels? What's the logic in that? Why is the cable company carrying a channel that's not profitable?

Their argument rings so damn hollow it's ridiculous.

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39599523)

The "logic" is "Tyranny of the majority should not prevent people with more esoteric tastes from receiving the channels they enjoy! The majority should subsidize the tastes of the minority, so that more people can enjoy television!"

The real logic is the one we all know. "We need more total channels so we can break up the POPULAR channels in to as many add-on packages as possible, by bundling them with the shitty channels, so that we can still charge them $6 for 5 channels, but do that 30 times."

Re:So what? (2)

davester666 (731373) | about 2 years ago | (#39599627)

Because the cable company owns the channel. And because the cable company takes the fee's "charged" by each channel, doubles them, then tells the CRTC, this is how much we have to charge, any less and we'll go out of business.

Channel Bundling is the television version of CD's in the music business. You make BOATLOADS more profit by selling 9 crappy songs with the one song the customer actually wants.

Re:So what? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#39599781)

What's the logic in that? Why is the cable company carrying a channel that's not profitable?

So they can truthfully brag "We have 100 channels!" thereby getting a whole lot more customers from the half of the population that have 2 digit IQs. The rest uf us shrug and cancel our cable subscriptions.

They could get me back by charging two bucks a month for each channel I selected, but they'd only be getting maybe ten bucks a month from me.

Re:So what? (2)

nine-times (778537) | about 2 years ago | (#39599815)

What's the logic in that? Why is the cable company carrying a channel that's not profitable?

Because the 3 companies that own all the channels bundle them together and make cable companies pay for all of them.

The important thing is, inherent in the setup of these big media companies, they do not believe that you have any right to choose for yourself what you pay for and what you watch. It's the media executives' and marketing teams' jobs to decide what you should watch, and then create a situation where you're forced into it on whatever terms they think are appropriate. They mostly trying to "force" you into buying it by tying the unwanted products in with product that you do want, but ultimately they're willing to bribe and threaten politicians to change laws to force you to buy things.

Re:So what? (1)

DogDude (805747) | about 2 years ago | (#39599975)

Because instead of customers paying $25/month for only the stuff they want, they now have to pay $100/month for lots of crap they don't want. Revenue for the cable companies would drop by a large percentage over night if they did this.

That being said, I really don't understand why people would still subscribe to cable TV at all, with all of the alternatives available today. I haven't had a cable TV subscription for about 15 years, yet I still watch all of the "TV" programming that I want.

Re:So what? (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 2 years ago | (#39600111)

That being said, I really don't understand why people would still subscribe to cable TV at all, with all of the alternatives available today. I haven't had a cable TV subscription for about 15 years, yet I still watch all of the "TV" programming that I want.

Because lots of us out there, with $$ paid out for high end HD tv's...aren't satisfied yet with:

The often less that optimal HD signal/compression that streaming offers.

The often dismal choices offered (looking at Netflix)

Lack of live sports on streaming....

I have a Roku...it is fun and convenient when I'm too lazy to run to RedBox or have run out of my Netflix BluRays (I prefer to watch movies and content on the highest possible quality HD which is BR at this time)....I've streamed Netflix from the PS3 in the past (dropped Netflix when they tried charging me extra for streaming)....

It is a nice addition, but it is hardly a replacement for me for my tvs in the house. I find it is still pretty niche as far as appeal, but with work..that 'can' change.

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39600117)

Because otherwise there will be nothing left but the mainstream pap that slashbots like you feel they're too "smart" to watch. Discovery, Syfy, etc would go away or refocus more on catering the lowest common denominator. Then, said slashbots will whine about how nothing good is on TV anymore.

Re:So what? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 years ago | (#39600281)

> Discovery, Syfy, etc would go away or refocus more on catering the lowest common denominator

Where have you been exactly?

That already happened.

The "tyranny of the majority" is already in full effect.

Still not granular enough (2)

timeOday (582209) | about 2 years ago | (#39599337)

Forget ala-carte channels, much less bundling of channels. The future isn't even in ala-carte series, but rather ala-carte episodes. It is insanely competitive, but with unicast now feasible (and catching on rapidly, e.g. netflix), it cannot be otherwise.

Re:Still not granular enough (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 2 years ago | (#39599779)

We're close...it's AppleTV on the above-board pay side. You want a show, you watch it, they charge you. Because of the overhead, though, you are paying a great deal more per show than a typical household would consume. Even at $1 an episode, you start racking up the bill pretty fast. Even if you only watch weekly content, and watch just two shows each, a family of 4 is going to find themselves with a $32/month bill, plus the cost of bandwidth (currently $19-$59/mo in the 250GB cap flavor). Throw in Netflix for movies and you're looking at $80/mo for second run movies on Netflix and TV service. This discounts any daily material like the daily show and colbert report which would be another $32/mo combined.

The holy grail for streaming is sports, but DirecTV and the NFL have proven the gouging consumers is a serious buisiness, with 18 weeks of programming (essentially 2 full games a week = 7hrs, since the evening game(s) and Mon night are not included nor are playoffs or suberbowl, nor are any local blacked out or broadcast games) costing nearly $400!

What "we" really want is the cost per program that we're currently paying for, at $100/mo. for 300 channels x 24h/dy, divided up into "just what we watch" chuncks, with little or no additional markup. And that, my friend, is never happening.

Re:Still not granular enough (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#39599847)

Daily Show and Colbert are available free online, or were last I checked. I have no cable and I only spend $20/month with netflix plus a couple bucks here and there on Amazon. I also have prime. Including my 25/25 FIOS plan I cannot spend more than $70/month even my worst months on this stuff. I don't include internet cost when I normally look at this stuff as I would have that even if I had cable.

The a la carte model works fine (1)

bigredradio (631970) | about 2 years ago | (#39599339)

I think the a la carte model is fine. I have been unplugged since 2007 (take that Anonymous Coward), and I have used a mac mini and a boxee box as my entertainment devices. I like the on-demand aspect. However, I do watch less TV because once I have finished the program I set out to watch I turn it off. I do not get sucked into the shiny program that comes on next.

Re:The a la carte model works fine (2)

tibit (1762298) | about 2 years ago | (#39599463)

If it only were a shiny "program" that would come next. It's often shiny only because it's a polished turd :(

Misdirection - It's A Trap! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39599349)

While it is true, some programming will suffer/die with an a la carte model, this bluster is just misdirection.

The FACT that no one seems to be paying attention to is that a la carte pricing will be hugely expensive for the consumer. Sure a couple of channels or shows will be cheap, but a full months worth of viewing across a dozen or more channels will cost way more than what people are paying today. The telocs and cable companies know this all too well. They are eager to be "forced" to provide a la carte programming.

They are making people beg for the ass reaming that they are about to deliver. You have been warned.

Re:Misdirection - It's A Trap! (1)

tibit (1762298) | about 2 years ago | (#39599469)

No one will care about those dozens of channels I bet. That's the whole deal: people don't want all those crappy channels.

Re:Misdirection - It's A Trap! (1)

Feyr (449684) | about 2 years ago | (#39599579)

OP's point is that instead of paying 5$ for 6 channels, of which you only watch 2, you'll be paying 4$ for each of the two channels you actually want. (hint: total 8$)

Re:Misdirection - It's A Trap! (2)

Tridus (79566) | about 2 years ago | (#39599571)

Most people right now are paying for five channels they don't want for every one they do. Thus, a 300% increase in the price per channel would still be cheaper unless you're one of the few people that actually wants every channel.

Re:Misdirection - It's A Trap! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39599631)

Maybe they will have 5 channels for $X, 10 channels for $Y, 15 for $Z, etc.

You know - not unlike what they have now with "America's Top 150" and "America's Top 250" lineups where what you get is mostly crap - but where you don't have to subsidize all the useless crap.

Re:Misdirection - It's A Trap! (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#39599635)

Most people will not want a dozen or more channels. The real end game will be a la carte episode/movies. Like amazon is doing on the ps3. The old stuff is free with prime the new stuff is pay per episode. I imagine some of it will be free/cheap with commercials. This will mean far more competition and will drive down prices in a huge way. This is what cable providers really fear.

Re:Misdirection - It's A Trap! (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 2 years ago | (#39600159)

Like amazon is doing on the ps3.

You can get Amazon on PS3 now?!?!?

When did that happen? I've not fired up my PS3 ever since I dropped netflix streaming (didn't want to pay the extra above my BluRay rentals)...but last time I looked Amazon wasn't available on PS3...?!?

Re:Misdirection - It's A Trap! (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#39600205)

This Tuesday. You install it from the store or from the same video channels dialogue netflix is under.

Re:Misdirection - It's A Trap! (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 2 years ago | (#39600235)

This Tuesday. You install it from the store or from the same video channels dialogue netflix is under.

Too cool!!!

Hey, thank you VERY much for the info!!

Have a great weekend!

Re:Misdirection - It's A Trap! (2)

Volvogga (867092) | about 2 years ago | (#39599841)

I agree. This won't go the way people think it will. For proof, just look at season passes on Amazon Instant Video. They charge something like $2.35 an episode (in HD). Season seem to be around 22~24 episodes, so that is somewhere between $50 and $60 for a season depending on the show. Granted that I believe you "own" (in the sense the show will always be available to you in your video library) the show on Amazon instead of seeing it and having to buy the Blu-Ray when it comes out later, but it is still quite the mark up. If you only watch one or two shows and trust Amazon, then it may be worth it, but you are otherwise better off getting a cable package and the disks later down the road (TV seasons go on sale all the time).

For speculation sake, lets guestimate what that will be. I'm sure that the content providers won't charge as high a price as on Amazon, but it wouldn't surprise me if they didn't use it as a basic starting point. I could see them doing $0.50 per week for each local stations (so $2 per month), and $1 to $1.50 per week ($4 to $6 a month) per "cable" station.

If it is that price then for me I would need the local 4 networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, & FOX) at $8, and ten cable stations I regularly watch... somewhere around $45 to $60 per month. Isn't that what I pay now for 30 or 40 channels?

Re:Misdirection - It's A Trap! (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#39600019)

You are even better off signing up for netflix/amazon prime and watching the old seasons. Why would I care if I am watching last seasons episodes? It's new to me. Not sure about Canada, but here in the states lots of new stuff can be found on hulu and tv.com for free.

Re:Misdirection - It's A Trap! (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 years ago | (#39600309)

Cost more? Nonsense.

I could already dump cable now and pay less if only the streaming services carried enough content. That's pay per view prices.

You're just engaging in mindless pro-corporate fear mongering.

A la Carte Programming (1)

khellendros1984 (792761) | about 2 years ago | (#39599365)

There might be an avenue for continuing income in the future for providers that offer ala carte programming in the future. I've avoided getting cable or satellite, specifically because my needs are handled by OTA programming (news and sports) and Netflix (most of the rest of the shows I watch). I'd love it if I had the option to pay for just a few channels without duplicating the access I already have available to me, and the cable company would get subscription money out of me that they aren't currently pulling in. I don't think I'm even that unusual, among the younger end of the demographic.

da fuq? (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#39599371)

...a market shake-out, causing many specialty services to exit, would ensue.

The raisin de etre for cable tv is specialty service. All that non-sense about buying 'packages' is a way for the company to extort more money from customers.The channels have to put advertising in place to support themselves; They do not get that subscription money, and they wouldn't under a 'pick and choose' model anymore than they do now. But what it would do is force cable companies to disclose which assets are valuable and which are not, meaning those channels could then dictate terms to the cable companies, instead of the other way around; It would be an accurate way of figuring out how many people actually watch your channel, rather than relying on 3rd party services to provide that information.

So no. It wouldn't result in a market 'shakeout'.... and if it did, that's capitalism in action. Don't you support capitalism, oh great Cable TV executive with your very fancy hat? What you're really saying is your profits would be lower because you'd have to be honest about the numbers, rather than being able to use (achem) creative accounting.

Re:da fuq? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39599501)

Whoa, calm down, Che Guevera, the cable companies are not "extorting" you or anyone else to do anything.

Don't like the service offerings? Don't buy them.

If that argument is good enough for Apple fanbois, it's good enough for you.

Re:da fuq? (1)

LordNicholas (2174126) | about 2 years ago | (#39599725)

The channels have to put advertising in place to support themselves; They do not get that subscription money, and they wouldn't under a 'pick and choose' model anymore than they do now.

I'm not sure how it is in Canada, but in the US about 70% of a cable channel's revenue does come from cable subscription fees, and about 30% from ad revenue. They do get that money from the Comcasts and Time Warners of the world.

Re:da fuq? (1)

Tridus (79566) | about 2 years ago | (#39599833)

It's the same in Canada. Channels get money from the cablecos for every subscriber. Some channels (like TSN) can get more then others because they're much more in demand and not reliant on being in a bundle with better channels to survive.

In fact a lot of these channels get far more money from subscriptions then they do from ad revenue. That's why the broadcast channels wanted to implement Fee for Carriage, because CBC/CTV/Global don't have the same arrangement and don't get paid by the cablecos.

Re:da fuq? (1)

lsatenstein (949458) | about 2 years ago | (#39599905)

A secondary problem could evolve, where, in-place of a monthly charge, you now have a charge of a few pennies per program. Pay for what you watch would be a great idea. Lets say, dry loop for $10/mo and 10 cents an hour per show, news cast or old old movie. And the ISPs will still earn money from advertisers.

If we don't want them - why pay for Home Shopping? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39599383)

So complaint is that TV channels that people don't want to watch, can't compete? And I have to pay for them to survive?
Would those be "Home shopping" mainly?

Re:If we don't want them - why pay for Home Shoppi (2)

tibit (1762298) | about 2 years ago | (#39599499)

You don't get how it works. The HSN pays the cable companies to be distributed! They are profitable, they have money! They are perhaps the poster child for how it should be done.

a la carte is implemented well in India (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39599397)

You can either pick and choose channels, which are expensive but allow you to get a lower bill if you are watching a limited number of channels, or you can choose from pre designed genre based bundles which come with a mix of good and bad channels but are generally cheaper than individual channels
You can also add individual channels to the bundles at the individual rates

Re:a la carte is implemented well in India (1)

kryliss (72493) | about 2 years ago | (#39599705)

My thought would be that you could still get a-la-carte bundles. 5 channels of your choice for 10 bucks or 10 channels for 15. How many people out there with cable/satelitte really watch the 500 different channels?

Re:a la carte is implemented well in India (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39599877)

Yup thats kind of how it works. there are actually 3-4 levels of bundles, a bit more complicated than I had described
The main way it works is, either you go full a la carte(suitable for someone living alone) , go for all channels(large family,etc), or take a mix and match approach where you take a base bundle, 1-2 regional packs or language packs, add on HD packs and purchase any individual channels you want

Hmmm (1)

DBHolder (1196557) | about 2 years ago | (#39599399)

Popular networks propping up to the weaker ones? This sounds suspiciously like communism.

Re:Hmmm (0)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 2 years ago | (#39599649)

This sounds suspiciously like communism.

The word you are looking for is socialism. Or better yet, No Child Left Behind.

That said, you can argue healthcare works on the same proinciple. Those of us who are healthy and don't use medical services have our money diverted to prop up the weak (and accident prone).

So if you support healthcare for all, then you have to be for every cable channel as well, even if you don't watch them.

Re:Hmmm (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#39600271)

So if you support healthcare for all, then you have to be for every cable channel as well, even if you don't watch them.


Without healthcare, people die. Without cable, they have to get off their lazy asses and do something. Not even close to the same thing.

Free Market? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39599409)

But telcos, what happened to free market competition?

Oh, you only use that line when it benefits you, got it.

This is why I stopped watching TV (4, Interesting)

Dakiraun (1633747) | about 2 years ago | (#39599441)

It's been around 10 or 11 years now since I stopped watching TV. The ridiculous monthly costs combined with the facts that 2/3 of the channels are uninteresting and those that are are filled with up to 40% commercial time, I just thought to myself one day "Why am I paying for this?"

Since canceling my cable, I chose to watch shows that I was interested in by on-line streaming or by just getting the DVDs, and that's worked out great so far. The added perk is that I'm not exposed to ANY commercials at all. The big Telco's have got to come to the realization sooner or later that embracing the more modern ways of media distribution is a lot more profitable and beneficial than constantly opposing them. They seem to forget that it is the consumer than "wants" the shows, and their job to deliver what the consumer wants, not what they think the consumer wants.

If they don't step into the 21st century soon, more and more folks are just going to do what I did and stop giving them any money at all. Personally... I think it was one of the best things I've ever done; I haven't a clue where I'd find time to sit in front of a TV nowadays.

Re:This is why I stopped watching TV (1)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | about 2 years ago | (#39599743)

My brother mentioned the other day that he opted for a $2000/yr raise just by ditching cable.

If more people would put their satellite and cable subscriptions in a yearly cost light, they might be more inclined to drop them and go with free over the air HDTV and streaming.

Copyright is a monopoly... (1)

SydShamino (547793) | about 2 years ago | (#39599443)

...and someone with a monopoly shouldn't be allowed to force those wanting to buy the monopoly product to also buy other, lesser products. Obviously the law for pay TV doesn't work that way right now, but morally I think it should.

This should of course be within reason, assuming legislators can craft laws with reason. For cable-style channels, allowing a-la-carte selection by channel makes sense. Letting consumers choose by the television show on a given channel may not even by technically feasible. On the other hand, for internet subscriptions, selling by the channel or even by the episode might by possible.

In my opinion, a reasonable consumer-friendly compromise position would be:
1. Owners of a channel or set of channels with similar theme and content can market them as a bundle or as a la carte (e.g. ESPN with EPSN2 and ESPNU since content is often moved from one to the others).
2. The cable providers - or the consumers directly - can negotiate with the providers (with their wallets, if they must) to break up such similar-content channel bundles.
3. Owners are forbidden from bundling unrelated (by theme) channels. Disney can't force ABC Family on people who just want to buy ESPN. This applies equally to cable and internet subscriptions - there's not even a need to make special laws for the internet here.
4. Owners and cable providers are forbidden from forcing certain channels or channel bundles into certain tiers. Consumers have the ultimate right to select the theme-based channel bundles they prefer without having to buy any other "lower tier" bundles to get there.
5. Charging an exorbitant rate for a popular channel bundle is legal, of course. But throwing non-theme-related channels into the same bundle "for free" is illegal, unless those other channels are also free to anyone who wants them without the costly channel. In other words, Disney can't make ESPN $20 a month then provide all their other channels for free, unless consumers are allowed to drop ESPN and receive all the other channels for free.

Re:Copyright is a monopoly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39599653)

> Letting consumers choose by the television show on a given channel may not even by technically feasible.

Ever heard of pay per view?

I stopped reading... (1)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | about 2 years ago | (#39599449)


BCE, whose Bell owns 30 specialty networks

Who wants to bed all 30 of those networks are struggling because no one with a sane mind wants to watch them?

Re:I stopped reading... (2)

Tridus (79566) | about 2 years ago | (#39599593)

Oh, they do just fine when they're bundled together with TSN.

The fact is that most specialty channels don't care how many people watch them. They get more of their revenue from subscription fees (being in a package that people take) then they do from advertising to actual eyeballs. Why do you think so many of them just have the same few cheap shows on constant reruns?

Put the screws on 'em (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39599487)

I'd feel more inclined to agree with Cable companies if it were not for their extremely aggressive rent seeking behavior. They only carefully crafted service plans that are designed to offer you either:

1. Complete garbage for the low tier price they're required to have
2. The same garbage, plus more garbage you don't want along with the handful of channels you might actually do want.

So, either you pay reasonable 25-30 a month for useless crap or 100. No middle ground. It's this type of shit that gets regulators involved. All premium TV providers do this, not just cable companies. Cable companies also enjoy a monopoly status (for cable access), granted by the local municipalities that regulate the land and facilities their transmission lines lay on. Thus, there is justification to regulate them in turn.

I say fuck 'em. They're not entitled to their abusive business model.

Idiot channels only (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39599495)

A la carte sounds great in theory. You only pay for those channels that you want to watch.

But in reality, most people are idiots and would pay for shit channels such as sport, soap operas and reality shows.

With so few people paying for Discovery Channel, History Channel, science & tech channels, maybe they would cancel these channels?

Re:Idiot channels only (1)

Tridus (79566) | about 2 years ago | (#39599611)

Have you seen History channel lately? It's got nothing to do with History at all, unless you consider Pawn Stars and JAG returns to be historical.

Re:Idiot channels only (1)

robot256 (1635039) | about 2 years ago | (#39599669)

If they have any sense they will raise the prices on the less popular channels before cancelling them. So the shit channels get cheap and the decent channels get more expensive? Hell, I'd pay $30 a month for only 10 channels if it meant not having to scroll through all the shit to find something interesting. If they try and charge $10/mo for each channel though, they'd have about 10 seconds before I pulled the plug. And if there are channels with literally hundreds of viewers, then either get a government grant or get cancelled. I expect my taxes to pay for other people's stuff, not my cable bill.

Relax Office Furniture (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39599529)

I don't think so about that kind of stuff they can do that. I think that some people can pay for that all shopping things.yes this is crap and nobody wants to spend money on that channel.

Do you want me as a customer? (1)

spaceyhackerlady (462530) | about 2 years ago | (#39599533)

If you want me as a customer, you will implement à la carte service.

If you don't, I will continue to use streaming video and iTunes.

This is non-negotiable.


No ESPN subsidy (4, Insightful)

Fujisawa Sensei (207127) | about 2 years ago | (#39599577)

I want a package with I can get things like Discovery, Syfy, and Cartoon Network, without subsidizing ESPN or any sports channel or religion channel..

How will they know they are Canadian Consumers (1)

Anomalyst (742352) | about 2 years ago | (#39599599)

If we don't rectally shaft them with barbed implements rather than provide that for which they ask?

IP Violation (1)

PPH (736903) | about 2 years ago | (#39599667)

I'm afraid that I own the rights to the following business plan: Produce a crap product and convince some politicians that it must be bundled with more popular wares.

If the Canadian media companies insist on pursuing this line of business, they'll have to meet my licensing terms.

A la carte should go beyond channels... (1)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | about 2 years ago | (#39599735)

Paying for a channel is still too coarse. I would like to be able to purchase packages of specific shows.

Canadian Telco's In Agreement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39599765)

Then it must be bad for the consumer.

Hardly surprising (1)

Tridus (79566) | about 2 years ago | (#39599801)

Specialty channels in Canada fall into two groups:

1. The ones that draw subscribers. Think TSN and ones like that, which have content people actually go looking for.
2. The ones that are run on the cheap and show reruns of a small group of shows over and over again.

Group #1 would thrive under this model because they could charge more for those channels. If people can subscribe to TSN on its own, TSN can double or triple the price it charges the cable companies. They'll pass it along, and people will pay it because it's still no more then people were paying to get it before. The only difference is that a bunch of channel type #2 are no longer along for the ride.

Group #2 will suffer and many of them will die off, because they simply aren't worth paying for and won't draw subscription money if you need to pick them up seperately. What people don't commonly realize is that these channels make far more money from being in bundles then they do from advertising. It simply doesn't matter if you're watching them or not, so long as you're buying some other channel and they can be in that bundle you're still giving them money. That lets them save on content, because if nobody's watching they can pretty easily get away with constant reruns of bargain basement shows.

It would hardly be a tragedy to lose a bunch of thse channels. We have far too many as it is and they're starting to blend together and all show similar reality crap because it's cheap.

How much of bundling is just a land-rush mindset? (1)

swb (14022) | about 2 years ago | (#39599803)

So you're a content distributor/producer, and you have 3 "name" channels everybody wants and a bunch of low-rated specialty channels that show a ton of re-runs, "marathons" and a small handful of low-rated original niche programs ("Low Carb Househunter Pawn Star Bachelorette Bounty Hunters").

Of course you bundle everything, requiring cable/satellite providers to take the crap to get the in-demand channels.

In many cases, the crap channels seem *so* crappy you wonder how they even cover the overhead of technical production -- in many cases these kind of channels run 3 unique commercials for mail order products per hour and the rest of the time are promotionals for other programs on this and other channels.

I sometimes wonder if the bundling isn't about trying to make the niche channels profitable by getting them a wider audience, but a kind of land-rush, channel squatting to make sure they have a slots on every cable channel. This allows them to re-invent a channel (remember when Bravo was meant to be a 'serious' culture channel) anytime they want and automatically have a slot for it. And more importantly, especially for older cable systems, limit competition from new channels or other content packagers.

It makes less sense in a digital cable world where there's nearly endless spectrum, but it often seems to be the only rational reason for subsidizing a lot of crummy channels when that money might buy better leather for the executive jet.

A (Hopefully) Better Explanation for Bundling (4, Interesting)

LordNicholas (2174126) | about 2 years ago | (#39599883)

I work for a major cable network- here's a hopefully better explanation of why we've stuck with the bundling model.

A cable channel gets its revenue from two main sources- cable subscription fees from the cable provider (~70%) and ad revenue (~30%).

Let's assume we have a cable channel that is currently bundled, and in 100% of households with TVs, with revenue of $100 million a year. We're getting $70 million from cable subscriptions, and $30 million from ad revenue.

Now let's say we switch to a-la carte, but 100% of households still want to subscribe at a price that leaves us revenue-neutral. The cable channel says "great! we're still getting $70 million from subscriptions and $30 million from ad revenue. Everybody wins."

But, let's say only 50% of households would be willing to subscribe, but they're willing to pay double the price because they love the channel. We're still making $70 million from subscription fees. However, we're now only in 50% of households, which means we're much less attractive to advertisers. We're not going to keep making $30 million from ad revenue, because advertisers often need a "critical mass" of households reached in order to make a deal. This isn't a linear relationship- 50% of households doesn't mean 50% of ad revenue, it could mean 0% because we don't have the scale to make an ad deal worthwhile for the advertiser.

So now we've only got $70-85 million a year, which means we have less money to spend on programming. Program quality suffers as a result, and so the next year maybe only 25% of households are willing to subscribe. We're now in a downward spiral.

TL;DR - unbundling has the unfortunate side effect of reducing program quality for specialty channels. Only the cheapest shows (ie, crappy reality shows) or the ones appealing to the lowest common denominator (ie, CBS's entire lineup) might survive in the long-term.

Re:A (Hopefully) Better Explanation for Bundling (1)

dskoll (99328) | about 2 years ago | (#39600009)

We're now in a downward spiral

Welcome to the 21st century. And by the way, I'd be filled with glee to see Rogers in a downward spiral. My sympathy for that company would extend to dancing on its grave.

Re:A (Hopefully) Better Explanation for Bundling (1)

Tridus (79566) | about 2 years ago | (#39600291)

Have you actually WATCHED specialty channels lately? They're already cheap reality crap almost all of the time. I feel no compelling need to pay for any of it, and if some channels go under because of it then so be it. The only reason so many specialty channels survive now is due to this form of corporate socialism.

Let me get this straight... (1)

dskoll (99328) | about 2 years ago | (#39599933)

With my antenna and digital TV, I get about 10 channels for free. 90% of the programming is crap.

But I can pay $60/month and get 100 channels of crap? Oh boy!!!! Sign me up!!!

Wish my bill wasn't twice that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39600043)

Started out at $85/mo for net and cable 5 years ago. Now up to $145 and that is only with threatening them every 6 months with leaving so they give me the new subscriber deal of the month. 2 HD, 1 DVR, 2 tubes with reduced channels. 1 cable modem I own.

But our market plans of false more value! Oh noes! (2)

Tyr07 (2300912) | about 2 years ago | (#39600059)

They tried to hide the quality of the channel by simply saying its your personal opinion of the channel, not the value of the channel itself.

So even if you don't like it, imaginary people do. Hence we're giving 28 channels for X amount is a GREAT bargin.
Even if you only watch two of them, other people watches the OTHER channels...so we're giving you VALUE.

No. No you're not. You're bundling cheap crap that people don't want in to justify your prices.
If you tried to charge 30$ for two channels, you'd suddenly seem 'expensive' for what you get.
So you try to hide that and just don't want to be exposed.
Tough shit.

I'd love if I could sell people things and force them to buy other crud, but when it comes to physical objects, can't get away with it as much.

"Ah, I see you wish to purchase this TV, well, the TV is decent, medium level TV, and I realize the price is for a higher quality TV, but look, you get this cheap
living room set that no one wants to buy, so you're getting a great deal really."

No, no I'm not, because I don't need another living room set, and it's worthless, I couldn't sell it if I tried.

lot's of carp channels that no one watches (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#39600153)

lot's of carp channels that no one watches drives up cost just as much as people who don't want ESPN but may want HBO or other non sports channels.

Also there are people who want sports but not all the other crap like disney channels.

Most likely the costs will remain the same (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39600181)

I'm all for a la carte, but it will mean that niche markets get either very expensive or will dissapear from the commercial channels. The only channels that will remain, will broadcast "reality" "talent" shows 24/7 (not a big change from the current commercial tv offerings anyway). But at least I'm not paying for stuff I don't want. Already by far not all available channels for basic satellite (262 according to broadcaster) are in my favorites and even then there are some retarded channels in the favorites (like Discovery).

The only saviour to niche markets might be public access channels where commercials surrounding populare programming will support the special interest groups (and in some places taxes).

ESPN is nearing $5+ a sub it should go premium (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#39600247)

ESPN is nearing $5+ a sub it should go premium as well disney channel that used to be premium as well.

Media conglomerates collude with each other (1)

telso (924323) | about 2 years ago | (#39600297)

Though Canadians will easily recognize the conflict of interest, the service providers (cable/satellite) are also more or less the media providers (TV channels). For example, Bell Media [wikipedia.org] owns many of the TV channels in the country, while Bell TV [wikipedia.org] is one of two satellite providers; both are owned by BCE (aka Bell Canada).

"Undoubtedly, a market shake-out, causing many specialty services to exit, would ensue." Great quote; sounds like the satellite company is trying to help save those struggling TV channels. Except that the satellite company('s parent company) owns those TV channels!

This is just a huge money-printing machine:

1. Secure rights to TV programs already produced, conditional on CRTC approval
2. Ask the CRTC for approval to start a new channel with your "new" programming
3. Once you get approval, put the channel on your cable/satellite service
4. Heavily advertise new channel on all your other channels (at cost)
5. Bundle your channel with a whole bunch of other crappy channels and one good channel, making sure you can't get the one good channel without the other crap (often good to bundle another company's channels so they'll bundle yours)
6. Profit!

There's no ... step here.

One idea (that would never fly) would be that only networks that air a high percentage of original programs (not talking about "Canadian content", though I'm sure it'd get mixed in there) can be bundled together; if you're rebroadcasting another network's shows either on first airing or as repeats, you have to let your channel sink or swim in the free market. If you're actually benefiting society by producing a lot of new content I'd be willing to pay a small amount for that even if I have no interest in watching it, but if you're just a rebroadcasting money machine you can get off my lawn.

Serendipity Factor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39600301)

While I just love the concept of paying only for content that I want to watch, based on my well developed prejudices, I get more Joy out of seeing something absolutely new to me, something that I just never imagined before.
    Three quick anecdotes:
    Pasolini's "Gospel According to Matthew", a delightfully subversive film, shown on the religious TBN at three in the morning, around last Christmas. What were they thinking? Wait, Thumpers don't think...
    The "Arts Network", shown sporadically on the local New Tang Dynasty station. They also show "DWTV" and "RT". The aim of New Tang is to eliminate the current oligarchy in China, and replace it with one that ruled a millennium ago. The "Arts Network" may be Classic Music oriented, but they actually carry a wide range of quality performing arts. Unfortunately, "The Voice Of Firestone" videos are truly dreadful...
    "Free Speech TV". The local public access station just started showing this network within the last couple of weeks. Normally an outlet for PSA's and Lyndon LaRouche-type wingnuts, I have now seen some great talking head programs, documentaries, and the fascinating "Unauthorized: The Story of Rock 'N' Roll Comics".

    If you check out the rates that cable stations pay for programming, the biggest chunk by far is for professional sports, which I don't watch, except for Formula 1, and the occasional America's Cup, which aren't on my Basic Cable package anyway. (I mooch off of friends, especially those with projectors.) So I surf the free channels, and occasionally, I find a gem.
    Don'y be fooled by the men behind the "A La Carte" curtains. You _will_ end up paying more, for less. The cable _distribution_ system is corrupt from top to bottom. Worldwide.

    Meanwhile, "I Spy" will be on in a couple of hours on RetroTv. It's far funnier, witty, and polished than I remembered it from my childhood viewings.

Why people need cable or satellite? (1)

mar.kolya (2448710) | about 2 years ago | (#39600303)

Today it is easy and cheap to get interesting shows from streaming providers/dvd. It is easy and cheap (for most people) to get news from Air (free) or from Internet (almost free). It is easy, cheap and fast(!) to get any information you want from Internet without spending hours in front of TV. So it sounds like that only people that really would subscribe to cable are people that like to watch crap and advertisements. Why should anybody deprive them from this? Let them do it. Let them have their own club. Everybody else can just pull the plug, save money and live better. I do understand that this is a habit that might be difficult to drop. But it's worth it! I've dropped my TV subscription when I realised that I do not watch it and my kid watches treehouse to much. And I've never had a second thought.

U-verse is bad starz and showtime need MLB NBA (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#39600311)

U-verse is real bad as you need to buy starz and showtime to get MLB network, NBA tv, NASA TV, Investigation Discovery, Planet Green, Discovery Fit & Health, Centric, and others.

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