Today the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced that television service providers must offer an “entry-level” television service for up to $25, beginning in 2016.
According to the announcement, the new service will prioritize local programming such as news and information channels, something the CRTC believes will help build a better-informed country and “enable Canadian citizens to better participate in Canada’s democratic, economic, cultural and social life.”
The entry-level service will be supplemented by optional “pick-and-pay” or packaged channels for an extra cost. Like currently, customers will be able to select theme-based packages, like sports, comedy or movies, offered by their service providers. Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman and CEO of the CRTC, notes that customers will also be able to keep the offerings they currently have.
“The CRTC is not making choices for Canadians. It is setting out a road map to give all Canadians the freedom to choose the television content that meets their unique needs, budgets and realities,” said Blais during today’s announcement.
The first stage of the road map will be implemented in March 2016 when customers may subscribe to an entry-level television service for $25 as an alternative to the basic services already offered. By December 2016, “pick-and-play” and small themed packages will be available for purchase on top of the entry-level package.
“These changes are being introduced in a responsible and measured way to mitigate the impact on the Canadian economy and jobs in the television industry. We recognize that broadcasters need time to adapt their business and programming strategies, while cable and satellite companies need to update their informatics systems,” Blais confirmed.
As specified by the CRTC, the entry-level package will include:
- all local and regional television stations,
- public interest channels such as the Cable Public Affairs Channel and Aboriginal Peoples Television Network,
- education channels,
- and, if offered, community channels and the services operated by provincial legislatures.