Today’s CRTC decision is off-side with the agenda of the Harper Conservatives.
“The CRTC is rolling the dice on the future of an industry that is crucial to Canada’s cultural sovereignty and generates more than $15 billion in revenue and 66,000 jobs,” said Ian Morrison, spokesperson for the broadcast watchdog group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.
Even though the government made clear in its 2013 Speech from the Throne that cable channels would be unbundled “while protecting Canadian jobs”, CRTC Chairman, J.P. Blais had little sympathy today for those who will lose their jobs as revenue declines and employment shrinks as a result of today’s decision.
Evidence placed before the Commission by Friends at a public hearing in September last year predicted a worst case scenario that more than 17,000 jobs and more than $2 billion in revenue would be lost on an annual basis by 2020 as a result of moving to a pick and pay environment. While the CRTC has rejected that scenario, the Commission has offered no other analysis to support today’s decision and seems to have no idea of the economic impact of its decision.
“This decision is irresponsible. The move to unbundle cable channels and introduce a mandatory basic TV service represents a body blow to Canadian content on TV and will leave consumers expecting a price break disappointed, according to the broadcast watchdog group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.
The Commission has removed the requirement that TV distributors ensure subscribers receive a preponderance of Canadian channels to a requirement that they merely offer a preponderance of Canadian options. This will reduce Canadian programming, industry revenues and jobs.
Meanwhile, there is no evidence that the introduction of a basic service at $25 a month, along with channels available on a pick and pay basis will save consumers money and could end up costing more.