Sunday, July 18, 2010
See I Told Ya!
The Canadian TV world was all a-twitter a few weeks back with the story that a new conservative news channel was going to be founded to replace the ratings lethargic Sun TV.
I told loyal viewers at the time it would never happen because the Canadian TV dial is already overcrowded with dozens of priority home grown cable channels nobody particularly wants to watch.
And for once the CRTC has agreed with me.
In a letter the CRTC very quietly torched the idea that the new channel would get priority coverage on the cable dial and thus be eligible for buckets of cash courtesy of your friendly, neighborhood cable company.
Already there are dozens of these channels out there raking in big bucks from the mandatory payments the cable companies must fork out every month.
That's why your cable TV bill is swelling although surveys indicate few of these channels get many viewers at all.
Don't get me wrong I watch such Canadian cable channels as Discovery, Animal Planet, the various sports channels, BBC Canada and a few others.
But the CRTC obviously is worried about the number of disconnects as viewers switch to other, cheaper means. Guys down the street have just bought a new antenna and now get the basics without any monthly cable fee at all.
I've also heard of some people installing illegal satellite receivers to circumvent the CRTC but this is just hearsay.
In March the CRTC announced it was suspending all applications for the "Category A" channels --meaning mandatory coverage across the country.
But Quebecor tried anyway and has been turned down.Quebecor can still go ahead with an application for a "Category B" cable TV license which distributors might or might not pick up. But there'd be no steady cable fees from the carriers.
Or it could continue with Sun TV's current position as an over-the-air carrier (on Channel 52).
Channel 52 was the last conventional TV channel left for Toronto and was the subject of a furious bidding war at the CRTC applications hearings. The Toronto Star proposed a quality local service with coverage of such events as the Kiwanis music festival but this was turned down by the CRTC in favor of Calgary-based Craig Communications.
In little over a year all the bold promises to the CRTC were broken and Craig sold out to Sun TV (now owned by Quebecor).
Now Sun TV wants another make over but the CRTC has passed at the proposal to charge the cable viewers a compulsory service fee.