Cable a la carte pricing, whereby consumers pay for only the channels they want, has finally broken through in Canada. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said in a sweeping ruling today that cable and satellite providers must offer consumers an affordable basic lineup and allow them to choose additional channels.
The CRTC ruled that the pay TV providers will have to offer basic-local channel service at no more than $20 a month by March 2016. Subscribers also must be able to choose individual channels or small bundles of channels by then, with both options available by December 2016. Most cable and sat companies offer lengthy themed lineups, thus creating scenarios where viewers are forced to pay for channels they never watch. Pay TV channels also will benefit from the ruling as they’ll be able to offer individual feeds.
While the ruling is a big win for consumers, getting the shorter end of the stick are smaller cable channels that are bound to disappear from the lineup. U.S. Senator John McCain introduced a la carte cable legislation in March 2013 with the TV Consumer Freedom Act, but it died at the hands of several committees. U.S. media companies have resisted a la carte, citing that the prices for individual channels would spike sharply.