According to The Globe and Mail article, “TV firms score victory in fight over fees,” the CRTC has committed to a significant reversal.
First, they’ve approved ‘fee for carriage.’ This means that cable and satellite companies will have to pay stations to re-broadcast their signals. Television networks have been after this for years and the CRTC had always turned them down, until now. The CRTC will not set the rates, however. The broadcasters and re-broadcasters will have to negotiate the rates themselves, and they’ll go to binding arbitration if they can’t agree among themselves.
Second, the CRTC has set a specific minimum amount of locally produced programming each station must provide. The minimum is low, at just 7 hours a week in small markets and 14 hours in larger centres. Given that these limits can easily be surpassed by news alone, some feel that this is tacit permission to reduce the amount of local programming.
Third, re-broadcasters will have to increase their contributions to the Local Programming Improvement Fund from 1% to 1.5% of their gross broadcasting revenues, for one year.
As an aside, the article describes it this way:
The CRTC said it will increase the charges cable and satellite companies pay for the Local Programming Improvement Fund by 33 per cent for one year, to 1.5 per cent of their gross broadcasting revenues from 1 per cent.
A change from 1% to 1.5% is an increase of 50%, not 33%. Yes, a change from 1.5% to 1% would be a decrease of 33%, but the reverse isn’t true. Simple math… do you speak it? Okay, back to the topic at hand.
Phil Lind, vice-chairman of Rogers Communications Inc. said, “Taxes generally do get passed on to consumers, when they’re issued by government bodies.” Of course they do. This is exactly why I have such an issue with these changes.
Paul Sparkes, executive vice-president of corporate affairs for CTVglobemedia Inc. said “If they pass on [the charges], it’s time to regulate basic cable rates.” Well Jesus Christ, why don’t we just regulate every damned thing in society. CTV wanted fee for carriage because they felt others were profiting from their efforts without compensation. Now that they will have this compensation, they want to dictate exactly how the companies paying the compensation will generate it? Sorry, Mr. Sparkes, that’s none of your business. You wanted the money and the CRTC says you’ll get it. End of story. The only thing worse than a sore loser is a sore winner.
I wrote my MP that I’d seriously reconsider my cable subscription should fee for carriage be approved. Of course the fees will be passed on to the customer. Money doesn’t spring into existence just because the government enacts a new fee. The customer always pays eventually.
So the day this story broke, I called Rogers and cancelled my cable. It will be disconnected on August 5. Happy, CTV? I told you I wasn’t going to go along with this. Whether you really deserve the fee or not, I’m not interested in paying it.
My plan is to see how it goes. I still get plenty of DVDs through Zip.ca. If that’s not enough, I’ll investigate antenna options. The reading I’ve done indicates that I can outfit myself with a high-gain UHF antenna and an HD tuner for less than $200. And the only costs are for the equipment. There are no monthly charges.
I’m not saying I’ll never go back to cable, but $30 a month was borderline excessive for the basic stations. The threat of more broke this camel’s back.