Aug 01, 2021
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Headline, Industry News

CRTC blamed for empowering cable firms, putting broadcasters at death’s door

GATINEAU, Que. – Cable companies have gained so much power they have become a threat to Canadian broadcasting, and the national telecommunications regulator is mostly to blame, says Canada’s second-largest private broadcaster.

Canwest Global Corp. president Leonard Asper blamed the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission for setting ground rules that have impoverished broadcasters and put cable firms in the penthouse.

“Broadcasting is a regulated business. Once you decide to regulate, it should be fair regulation,” he chided the CRTC during hearings on the future of broadcasting Wednesday.

“Yet over the past 40 years, regulatory policies and decisions have favoured one sector to the detriment of another, resulting in a massive wealth transfer.”

Cable firms like Rogers (TSX:RCI.B) and Shaw (TSX:SJR.B) have most of the power in the industry today, he said.

Canwest, which has been granted bankruptcy protection for its TV operation, is the last of the major broadcasters to appear before the CRTC asking that the regulator set conditions that would compel cable and satellite operators to pay for TV signals.

The trouble is, making such a decision would leave it open for the carriers to charge customers as much as $10 a month to cover the extra costs, which they have said they would do.

To which, said Canwest regulatory affairs executive Charlotte Bell, the CRTC should show some spine.

“You have to pull your weight to keep this under control,” said told chairman Konrad von Finckenstein.

As he has on each day of the hearings to date, von Finckenstein again stressed that he is interested in a solution that won’t involve a rate increase for subscribers to cable and satellite services.

The CRTC chairman has at times alternated from pleas to frustration in asking broadcasters and distributors to get together and take the hot potato out of his hands.

One of the worries for the CRTC is that the Conservative government has put the regulator on notice it will not tolerate charging consumers more.

Earlier, Quebecor (TSX:QBR.B) president Pierre Karl Peladeau, who runs both Quebec’s dominant broadcasting and cable service, noted the CRTC’s concerns.

“You seem to be worried about the public reaction of (fee hikes). Well you are right to be,” he warned.

“The government is absolutely right … (to) care about the customers,” he added, stressing there is enough money in the system to support all the stakeholders.

Given the two apparently mutually-exclusive propositions, CRTC commissioners have been paying close attention to any idea that promises what chairman von Finckenstein has called a “win-win-win” outcome – a win for broadcasters, a win for carriers and a win for consumers.

Peladeau, whose Quebecor firm has a foot in both camps as both the province’s dominant broadcaster and cable operator, said the solution is not to increase what consumers pay, but to divvy it up differently.

The party that needs to give, he said, is specialty channels that have risen from virtually nothing in the 1980s to capturing almost half the television viewership today.

He is asking the CRTC to give stakeholders three years to rebalance the system, in essence allow both specialty channels that currently get a fee-for-carriage and conventional stations that don’t to duke it out.

And to make sure there is real negotiation, he said, the regulator should remove the “must-carry” label on all signals except for the English and French-language CBC, which would be excluded from the bargaining.

That way, Canadians get to pay for only the stations they want to watch and the market determines the value of specialty and conventional signals.

Peladeau said the CBC should be excluded from fee-for-carriage since it already receives $1.1 billion in government funds, adding it was “scandalous” that the public broadcaster is also asking to be paid for its signal.

Like all the broadcasters, Peladeau said the system began losing its balance with the advent of specialty channels, which fragmented viewership and ad revenues. He noted that while conventional television revenues keep dropping, the CRTC imposes on them the onerous costs of producing domestic programming.

In earlier submissions, broadcasters have said they are barely surviving, noting two recent local station closures in Brandon, Man, and Red Deer, Alta., and two that went on the market at fire sale prices in Hamilton, Ont., and Victoria.

“The situation truly is a cause for concern,” Peladeau said.

“Conventional television is the cornerstone of our broadcasting system and plays a vital role in Canada’s democratic, cultural, social and economic life.”

The CRTC also was more than receptive Tuesday to a proposal by CBC executives that the regulator dictate cable firms offer viewers an inexpensive “skinny basic” package that would include mostly the Canadian channels. That wouldn’t prevent the distributors from raising fees on their expanded packages, but the existence of a low-cost option would dissuade gouging, the CBC said.

Source: The Canadian Press

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Headline, Industry News

CRTC blamed for empowering cable firms, putting broadcasters at death’s door

GATINEAU, Que. – Cable companies have gained so much power they have become a threat to Canadian broadcasting, and the national telecommunications regulator is mostly to blame, says Canada’s second-largest private broadcaster.

Canwest Global Corp. president Leonard Asper blamed the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission for setting ground rules that have impoverished broadcasters and put cable firms in the penthouse.

“Broadcasting is a regulated business. Once you decide to regulate, it should be fair regulation,” he chided the CRTC during hearings on the future of broadcasting Wednesday.

“Yet over the past 40 years, regulatory policies and decisions have favoured one sector to the detriment of another, resulting in a massive wealth transfer.”

Cable firms like Rogers (TSX:RCI.B) and Shaw (TSX:SJR.B) have most of the power in the industry today, he said.

Canwest, which has been granted bankruptcy protection for its TV operation, is the last of the major broadcasters to appear before the CRTC asking that the regulator set conditions that would compel cable and satellite operators to pay for TV signals.

The trouble is, making such a decision would leave it open for the carriers to charge customers as much as $10 a month to cover the extra costs, which they have said they would do.

To which, said Canwest regulatory affairs executive Charlotte Bell, the CRTC should show some spine.

“You have to pull your weight to keep this under control,” said told chairman Konrad von Finckenstein.

As he has on each day of the hearings to date, von Finckenstein again stressed that he is interested in a solution that won’t involve a rate increase for subscribers to cable and satellite services.

The CRTC chairman has at times alternated from pleas to frustration in asking broadcasters and distributors to get together and take the hot potato out of his hands.

One of the worries for the CRTC is that the Conservative government has put the regulator on notice it will not tolerate charging consumers more.

Earlier, Quebecor (TSX:QBR.B) president Pierre Karl Peladeau, who runs both Quebec’s dominant broadcasting and cable service, noted the CRTC’s concerns.

“You seem to be worried about the public reaction of (fee hikes). Well you are right to be,” he warned.

“The government is absolutely right … (to) care about the customers,” he added, stressing there is enough money in the system to support all the stakeholders.

Given the two apparently mutually-exclusive propositions, CRTC commissioners have been paying close attention to any idea that promises what chairman von Finckenstein has called a “win-win-win” outcome – a win for broadcasters, a win for carriers and a win for consumers.

Peladeau, whose Quebecor firm has a foot in both camps as both the province’s dominant broadcaster and cable operator, said the solution is not to increase what consumers pay, but to divvy it up differently.

The party that needs to give, he said, is specialty channels that have risen from virtually nothing in the 1980s to capturing almost half the television viewership today.

He is asking the CRTC to give stakeholders three years to rebalance the system, in essence allow both specialty channels that currently get a fee-for-carriage and conventional stations that don’t to duke it out.

And to make sure there is real negotiation, he said, the regulator should remove the “must-carry” label on all signals except for the English and French-language CBC, which would be excluded from the bargaining.

That way, Canadians get to pay for only the stations they want to watch and the market determines the value of specialty and conventional signals.

Peladeau said the CBC should be excluded from fee-for-carriage since it already receives $1.1 billion in government funds, adding it was “scandalous” that the public broadcaster is also asking to be paid for its signal.

Like all the broadcasters, Peladeau said the system began losing its balance with the advent of specialty channels, which fragmented viewership and ad revenues. He noted that while conventional television revenues keep dropping, the CRTC imposes on them the onerous costs of producing domestic programming.

In earlier submissions, broadcasters have said they are barely surviving, noting two recent local station closures in Brandon, Man, and Red Deer, Alta., and two that went on the market at fire sale prices in Hamilton, Ont., and Victoria.

“The situation truly is a cause for concern,” Peladeau said.

“Conventional television is the cornerstone of our broadcasting system and plays a vital role in Canada’s democratic, cultural, social and economic life.”

The CRTC also was more than receptive Tuesday to a proposal by CBC executives that the regulator dictate cable firms offer viewers an inexpensive “skinny basic” package that would include mostly the Canadian channels. That wouldn’t prevent the distributors from raising fees on their expanded packages, but the existence of a low-cost option would dissuade gouging, the CBC said.

Source: The Canadian Press

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Headline, Industry News

CRTC blamed for empowering cable firms, putting broadcasters at death’s door

GATINEAU, Que. – Cable companies have gained so much power they have become a threat to Canadian broadcasting, and the national telecommunications regulator is mostly to blame, says Canada’s second-largest private broadcaster.

Canwest Global Corp. president Leonard Asper blamed the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission for setting ground rules that have impoverished broadcasters and put cable firms in the penthouse.

“Broadcasting is a regulated business. Once you decide to regulate, it should be fair regulation,” he chided the CRTC during hearings on the future of broadcasting Wednesday.

“Yet over the past 40 years, regulatory policies and decisions have favoured one sector to the detriment of another, resulting in a massive wealth transfer.”

Cable firms like Rogers (TSX:RCI.B) and Shaw (TSX:SJR.B) have most of the power in the industry today, he said.

Canwest, which has been granted bankruptcy protection for its TV operation, is the last of the major broadcasters to appear before the CRTC asking that the regulator set conditions that would compel cable and satellite operators to pay for TV signals.

The trouble is, making such a decision would leave it open for the carriers to charge customers as much as $10 a month to cover the extra costs, which they have said they would do.

To which, said Canwest regulatory affairs executive Charlotte Bell, the CRTC should show some spine.

“You have to pull your weight to keep this under control,” said told chairman Konrad von Finckenstein.

As he has on each day of the hearings to date, von Finckenstein again stressed that he is interested in a solution that won’t involve a rate increase for subscribers to cable and satellite services.

The CRTC chairman has at times alternated from pleas to frustration in asking broadcasters and distributors to get together and take the hot potato out of his hands.

One of the worries for the CRTC is that the Conservative government has put the regulator on notice it will not tolerate charging consumers more.

Earlier, Quebecor (TSX:QBR.B) president Pierre Karl Peladeau, who runs both Quebec’s dominant broadcasting and cable service, noted the CRTC’s concerns.

“You seem to be worried about the public reaction of (fee hikes). Well you are right to be,” he warned.

“The government is absolutely right … (to) care about the customers,” he added, stressing there is enough money in the system to support all the stakeholders.

Given the two apparently mutually-exclusive propositions, CRTC commissioners have been paying close attention to any idea that promises what chairman von Finckenstein has called a “win-win-win” outcome – a win for broadcasters, a win for carriers and a win for consumers.

Peladeau, whose Quebecor firm has a foot in both camps as both the province’s dominant broadcaster and cable operator, said the solution is not to increase what consumers pay, but to divvy it up differently.

The party that needs to give, he said, is specialty channels that have risen from virtually nothing in the 1980s to capturing almost half the television viewership today.

He is asking the CRTC to give stakeholders three years to rebalance the system, in essence allow both specialty channels that currently get a fee-for-carriage and conventional stations that don’t to duke it out.

And to make sure there is real negotiation, he said, the regulator should remove the “must-carry” label on all signals except for the English and French-language CBC, which would be excluded from the bargaining.

That way, Canadians get to pay for only the stations they want to watch and the market determines the value of specialty and conventional signals.

Peladeau said the CBC should be excluded from fee-for-carriage since it already receives $1.1 billion in government funds, adding it was “scandalous” that the public broadcaster is also asking to be paid for its signal.

Like all the broadcasters, Peladeau said the system began losing its balance with the advent of specialty channels, which fragmented viewership and ad revenues. He noted that while conventional television revenues keep dropping, the CRTC imposes on them the onerous costs of producing domestic programming.

In earlier submissions, broadcasters have said they are barely surviving, noting two recent local station closures in Brandon, Man, and Red Deer, Alta., and two that went on the market at fire sale prices in Hamilton, Ont., and Victoria.

“The situation truly is a cause for concern,” Peladeau said.

“Conventional television is the cornerstone of our broadcasting system and plays a vital role in Canada’s democratic, cultural, social and economic life.”

The CRTC also was more than receptive Tuesday to a proposal by CBC executives that the regulator dictate cable firms offer viewers an inexpensive “skinny basic” package that would include mostly the Canadian channels. That wouldn’t prevent the distributors from raising fees on their expanded packages, but the existence of a low-cost option would dissuade gouging, the CBC said.

Source: The Canadian Press

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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