Canadian TV viewers to get more flexibility to pick which channels they want

TORONTO – Canadian viewers frustrated with paying for television channels they don’t want can expect more flexible packages in light of a new ruling by broadcast regulators.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has ruled in favour of proposals made by Bell Media and Telus Corp. to adopt a more flexible TV package model.

“In this decision, one of our main criteria was flexibility and innovation in the packaging,” said Denis Carmel, a spokesman for the CRTC.

“For those who offered more of this, I would say, this is a win.”

Carmel said that while individual channels may cost more under the new model, consumers’ bills may go down because they will be paying for fewer channels.

The CRTC could not provide details about the terms of the agreement, which is confidential.

The ruling reflects a marketplace that is moving towards more flexible packaging, where consumers only have to pay for what they want, said Carmel.

“In the old days there were huge packages where to get one channel you might have to pay for many more,” said Carmel.

“More and more, the offerings are such that you have more flexibility as a consumer to select what you really want and not have to pay for channels that you may not watch.”

Kevin Crull, president of Bell Media, called the decision a victory for consumers.

“The CRTC has sent a very clear signal that it supports carriage arrangements that will deliver more packaging flexibility to consumers,” said Crull.

“With this decision, Canada will maintain its position as a world leader in providing consumers with both a wide array of programming choices as well as packaging flexibility, all at affordable rates.”

Telus said the decision “recognizes the importance of consumer choice in TV programming.”

“(It) ensures Canadian consumers can not be forced to subscribe to a service from a specific company in order to continue to have access to their favorite content,” the company said in a statement.

“This decision promotes healthy and fair competition between service providers for greater consumer choice.”