Monday, November 02, 2009


Moved in, unpacking, got a cat, been busy. But I noticed that the CBC this morning was reporting today is the last day for CRTC submissions on the issue of a local TV surcharge for cable and satellite users. This is an issue that leaves me ambivalent.

On the one hand, you've got the cable and satellite providers who are basically abusive monopolies, and on the other you've got the legacy TV broadcasters, who wave the flag of "local TV" when they spend -- and make -- most of their money buying US content and whine about getting nothing from cable and satellite, when they get the very, very lucrative privilege of simultaneous substitution. (How many ad dollars do they get from Oscars and Superbowl broadcasts that they would otherwise miss out on?)

On balance, I suppose the hypocrisy of the legacy broadcasters bugs me more. But the whole issue reminds me of Henry Kissinger on the Iran-Iraq war: It's a pity they can't both lose.


Catelli said...

I'm equally ambivalent. I would have thought that an additional 'TV Tax' (as the cable providers put it) being added to my bill would upset me somewhat.

But then I realized, deep down inside me I am really looking for a reason to cut off cable providers completely and go back to a plain old fashioned antennae on the roof. I get digital and HD for free that way, so why I should pay a scum sucking middleman to provide that service to me?

It is on that basis that the cable/satellite providers should be nervous about passing on any "local tv" subsidy to the consumer. Many of us are more than willing to forego paying for TV and use alternative sources.

Between the Internet and free over-the-air signals, its the cable providers that have to watch their backs in this fight. They're already vulnerable, and if they raise costs too high, their market will evaporate on them.

North of 49 said...

Well, how about this? Let the legacy channels charge the cable companies, and the cablecos pass the costs on to their subscribers -- but there must be concessions from each.

For the legacy channels, no more simultaneous substitution. For the cablecos, no more "tiering" -- you subscribe a la carte, picking only those channels you want, at a price per channel derived from the current cost of each tier divided by the number of channels in each tier. That's fair, right?

That way I could buy only the seven or eight channels I really watch, rather than pay for all the ones I don't -- or won't watch because they're too cowardly to air shows for grownups without sanitizing them (A&E) or endless wanky disclaimers about scaries like skin and sex and swearing (everybody else).