GATINEAU, Que. – Cable and satellite service providers will soon have to offer consumers an “entry-level” television service, at a cost of no more than $25 a month.
Here are five things you need to know about the CRTC’s decision Thursday to require service providers to offer so-called “skinny basic” TV packages:
— The basic service, coming into effect a year from now, must include local channels in each market, education and legislature channels and at least four U.S.-based network channels. Consumers will then be able to supplement this with either individual channels through a pick-and-pay model, or small, “reasonably-priced,” bundled channel packages
— The trimmed-down service will cost a maximum of $25 a month, but could be reduced further by service providers. That doesn’t include taxes or the cost of a set-top box needed to receive the TV signals.
— The cost of basic TV used to be regulated, with prices averaging between $18 and $19 a month, until prices were fully deregulated in 1999.
— It’s not known how much consumers will save. Some critics warn that TV services could actually cost more, on average, if consumers have to pay higher prices for individual channels. Service providers also won’t have to offer a choice of either a la carte channels or bundles until Dec. 2016.
— CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais acknowledges that many people will likely lose their jobs as a result of the changes as TV channels that are currently struggling to stay afloat go off the air.