Bell supports greater TV packaging flexibility to respond to consumer demand
Proposes new model for local TV to ensure long-term sustainability of local programming
MONTREAL, June 27, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - To ensure Canadians get the TV channels they want to watch, Bell today announced its support for both "pick and pay" options for all television channels not included in basic packages, and a new model to ensure the long-term sustainability of local programming.
These proposals support the modernization of Canada's successful broadcasting system in an era of rapid change, balancing flexibility and choice in TV programming with consumer demand for content of quality, variety and value, alongside the cultural imperative of a unique and relevant Canadian voice in broadcasting.
Focused on empowering consumers and supporting great local and Canadian content, these proposals are key elements in Bell's submission filed today as part of the CRTC's consultation on the future of Canadian TV.
Pick and pay flexibility Broadcast distributors should have continued flexibility to include discretionary Canadian services in basic packages and offer a range of TV packaging options, while also having the ability to make all Canadian discretionary services not in basic available to consumers on a pick and pay basis.
Bell supports greater competition among programming services and increased flexibility for all channels to ensure Canadians continue to have access to the highest-quality viewing options. The proposal would depend on a commercial marketplace that enables negotiations between broadcasters and distributors for any channel without carriage rights.
"Bell agrees with Canadian consumers that they shouldn't have to pay for channels they don't want just to get the channels they do. In addition to the extensive range of TV packaging options we make available, we seek to offer pick and pay as an option to consumers," said Wade Oosterman, President of Bell Residential Services. "Free-market negotiations are essential if pick and pay is to deliver on the promise of consumer choice, giving broadcasters and distributors the ability to develop the innovative and competitive business models required to make it work."
Ensuring the future of local TV Canada's broadcasting system is built on a foundation of local television programming. However, the sector is no longer financially sustainable and to date none of the regulatory measures implemented to address the issue have managed to address the structural deficiency of an advertising-only funding model.
Canadians benefit from a wealth of programming options, competitive TV distribution choices and technological innovations like Fibe TV. While Canadians have traditionally enjoyed more content choice and lower TV pricing than consumers in the United States, the US experience has shown that new models and revenue sources are necessary in order to sustain local programming going forward.
"Canadians everywhere value local TV because it connects and informs them about their communities. We need to act now to ensure local TV can continue to fulfill this mandate," said Kevin Crull, President of Bell Media. "The CRTC's consultation offers the opportunity to consider an innovative and up-to-date model that aligns with what consumers want from their broadcasting system."
Bell proposes to convert local conventional TV stations into local specialty services, which would continue to be subject to local programming requirements and be carried as part of basic packages. Like other specialty services, local channels would be able to charge wholesale rates to broadcast distributors, subject to existing CRTC must-carry regulations applicable to local broadcasting. The combined revenue from advertising and wholesale fees supports a stable and sustainable future for local programming for all Canadians.
Together, Bell's two proposals will work to ensure Canadians continue to receive the local programming and other channels they want while enabling them to manage their overall spending on TV services.
About Bell Bell is Canada's largest communications company, providing consumers and business customers with wireless, TV, Internet, home phone and business communications services. Bell Media is Canada's premier multimedia company with leading assets in television, radio and digital media. Bell is wholly owned by Montréal's BCE Inc. (TSX, NYSE: BCE). For more information, please visit Bell.ca.
Bell Let's Talk promotes Canadian mental health with national awareness and anti-stigma campaigns, like Clara's Big Ride for Bell Let's Talk and Bell Let's Talk Day, and significant Bell funding of community care and access, research, and workplace initiatives. To learn more, please visit Bell.ca/LetsTalk.