By Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press
TORONTO – An a la carte system gives TV fans more choice but they’ll ultimately have fewer channels to choose from, say some Canadian producers who predict job losses and less programming for kids.
But most at risk are channels that don’t really license original content anyway, like Book Television, says the head of the Canadian Media Production Association, referring to the struggling Bell Media channel that’s become a poster child for what’s wrong with the current bundling system.
“All broadcasting channels are going to be under pressure. Some will disappear and some won’t and that will really be determined by consumer choice,” said Michael Hennessy, noting that’s not entirely a bad thing.
“How many channels today — from our perspective that are really buying original content — are there? That are attracting a lot of audience? It’s a relatively small number. I would say once you get beyond your top 20 or 30 channels there’s a whole bunch of channels nobody’s watching.”
He estimates independent TV producers were responsible for more than 125,000 jobs and almost $6 billion in economic activity in 2013/14.
The CRTC’s new rules likely won’t boost those numbers, he predicted.
“All you will do is shrink the number of companies without making anybody bigger.”
Consumers across the country will soon have the chance to subscribe to individual channels or smaller TV bundles under regulations introduced Thursday by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.
The CRTC also ordered TV providers to offer a basic package at no more than $25 a month.
Just how that could change the TV landscape has yet to be seen, but some observers celebrated the likelihood of a thinned-out dial, where truly great homegrown productions might have a shot at finding audiences.
“Because there are so many channels, everything is massively fractured,” says Adam Shaheen of Cuppa Coffee Studios, responsible for animation productions including “Glenn Martin DDS.”
“You’re getting two people on every channel and that now makes up a sort of normal audience.”
And if people lose their jobs, maybe they deserve to go, he suggested.
READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE.
Chatting with some friends working in the television industry and they were livid about the upcoming changes, as it will directly impact them. I tried to be empathetic about it, but really, what makes TV so special and entitled? What happens to a restaurant (or any consumer-based business) that can’t attract enough people through the doors to remain viable? It closes. The owner loses money, the staff lose their job, the equipment gets sold, everybody moves on. Why should TV channels be any different? Why do people hold them as sacred? Once the channels are unbundled and the subsidization is removed, those that are actual, viable businesses will survive. The rest will become history, as has always been the case with free market capitalism.
Thank CRTC for shooting Canadian television in the foot. I thought the idea was to protect Canadian culture not protect American TV jobs.
A difficult task to tackle. Who are the real winners and losers? No matter which formula is used by the CRTC, there will be both positive and negative consequences. I can sympathize with both sides on this one, but as a TV “consumer” the chance to pick and chose what I want, and don’t want to watch, is very attractive. If I was still in the business of independent production, I would probably be looking hard to find a niche opportunity among the dismantling of the old and the implementation of the new.
When did private enterprise expect that hand of govt to keep them in the black? I find it more nauseating when a said to be free market govt. is in power and it subsidizes in a pick and choose manor what businesses and industry it wants.
A govt run t.v./radio channel etc. is one thing. But all sorts of private business do not get special attention and interjection by govt bureaucracies. They are all sink or swim. Private t.v., radio, movie making and a multitude of others should not become dependent on govt regs favouring them or giving them subsidies and credits. Regs need to balance out for fair markets not for favouring some over others
If t.v. network “A” is incapable of carrying an audience then sorry they close up shop like all too many business have done and will do in the future.
I subscribe to 99 channels not including the music stations. After 3 AM, most of those stations are running infomercials. I will not cry if a few go black.
A very popular move by the CRTC among the paying viewers. I thought the biggest scam around was forcing a bunch of junky channels people never watch down someone’s throat if they wanted to watch popular channels like TSN.
Welcome to the real world if people arent going to pay for your type of programming you probably shouldnt be cluttering up the channel space anyways.
I for one am going to love this. I have a number of channels that I do not watch but have to scribe too. There are people that do not want TSN and or Sports-channels. And I totally understand that. just as those that do not want Food Network, E, Comedy.
The best will survive and that is free enterprise, just like a restaurant, if people want it then it will survive. If not then it closes it’s door. If a few channels go away, not a bad idea in my opinion.
Now if we can do this for internet services, imagine the cost savings and price wars.
I’d certainly welcome a smaller cable bill, but I know that picking and choosing is gonna cost me more.
One thing’s for sure, the divorce rate in this country is going to sky-rocket
Al (March 22, 2015 – 9:19am) is 100% right in saying that it’ll cost him more, especially if he’s a sports fan. And it all comes down to two words — wholesale rate.
Using some American numbers as an example, cable companies in the USA pay the wholesale rate of approximately $6.00 for the rights to deliver ESPN to each subscriber. Here’s a story from the Wall Street Journal from last year that gives a sense of proportion on how ESPN compares to other ‘high value’ channels (http://blogs.wsj.com/numbers/how-much-cable-subscribers-pay-per-channel-1626/).
The wholesale rate for sports in Canada has always been significantly lower than that in the USA (this article from December 2013 offers details: https://cartt.ca/article/sports-television-distributors-foot-much-bigger-bill-sports-and-worry-their-video-days-are). But those days are numbered.
A lot of currently bundled channels will ultimately die — don’t expect Book TV, Cottage Life, HiFi, Cosmopolitan, Dtour, Velocity, AUX and probably a dozen others to exist in the future. And if they don’t exist, their parent company (Shaw/Rogers/Bell) isn’t raking in that monthly wholesale rate the channel got as being part of the bundle that’d been forced on consumers. So how will this revenue shortfall be covered? By cranking up the wholesale rates.
Of course, they can’t take it up too much, as the CRTC also laid out regulations regarding wholesale pricing in relation to unbundling, but the cable company lawyers will find a way to increase your bill as quickly as possible. And with sports programming being the most profitable segment of cable, that’s where the rates will jump highest.
While we won’t get up to the $6 level like ESPN, it wouldn’t surprise me if we see something closing in on the $3.50-$5 range for each of the SportsNet & TSN options available, which is a multiple of what the rates are today. The bite won’t be as hard for the non-sports channels, but rest assured, there will be increases there, too.
On the surface, it looks like unbundling will be good for consumers, but the cable companies will find a way to maintain the margins they’ve enjoyed for decades, which in the end means the consumer will, regrettably, be bent over a counter once again, their salty tears the only lubricant in sight.