Cable Choice Coming to Canada - Why Not America?

Written by PTC | Published September 4, 2014

Consumers and families in Canada have an ally in Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his conservative Tory Party.

Consumers are frustrated over being forced to buy large bundles of channels they don’t want when they sign up for satellite and cable TV services, says Industry Minister James Moore.

Last year, Harper and his party began an effort to “unbundle” cable programming. In other words, their aim is to give consumers and families a wider swath of options to choose their own cable television programming. Prices for cable television in Canada have skyrocketed in recent years and at even faster rate than the typical 6-7% increase Americans have come to expect every year:

Based on figures from Statistics Canada’s database, evidence suggests the cost of having cable-TV and telephone service in Canada has surged since the end of the great 2008-09 recession, at a faster pace than price increases for groceries and shelter. Meanwhile, the price of cable-TV in the U.S. advanced at half the Canadian pace over the same period, while phone costs dropped.

Now Harper’s plans to make consumer-friendly moves are coming to fruition:

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, known as the CRTC, is proposing a slimmer basic cable service -- limited to local channels, educational services and feeds from provincial legislatures -- that might be capped at C$20 to C$30 a month. After buying the basic pack, consumers would be able to pay per channel or build their own packages with just the channels they want.

Imagine that! Beyond a basic fee-for-service, the Canadian government is pushing to simply allow customers to pick what they want.

In other words, it’s a free market!

The PTC and many other pro-consumer and pro-family organizations have been pushing for a similar solution in the United States that is soon to be enjoyed by our neighbors to the north. It’s an idea that makes sense in every living room in the country, but gets thwarted in the maze of money, power and influence in Washington.

If conservatives in Canada can stand up to corporate interests to do what’s right for consumers and families, then so can policymakers in America. It's a potential political boon for any politician willing to do the same.

Call your Member of Congress and Senators, and ask them to support measures that would offer consumers and families more and better choices in the cable television lineups - like Senator McCain's "a la carte" bill or new "Local Choice" legislation aimed at the broadcast network side of the equation.

Take Action. Stay Informed.