American cable companies are increasingly moving toward “skinny bundles” as a way of keeping customers. But this isn’t a problem in Canada – where full-fledged Cable Choice has become the law.
In what has become an annual ritual for cable customers, Time Warner Cable recently announced that its monthly subscription fee is going up yet again.One source of the increase is a “broadcast TV and sports programming surcharge,” which is rising from $5.50 to $8.75 a month. That’s nearly a 60% increase – for channels people can largely get over the air with an antenna for free. And naturally, other cable companies like Comcast are following suit.
But beginning March 1st, Canadians will be able to receive only the channels they want. According to a Los Angeles Times interview with Canadian consul general James Villeneuve, the Canadian government is willing to make and enforce laws that empower the public, not big industry. “It’s fair to say we take a consumer-centric approach to things,” Villeneuve said. “Industry comes to the table and we have open and honest discussions about jobs and the economy. Ultimately, it’s about what’s best for society.”
Under the new system, cable and satellite pay-TV companies are required to offer basic TV service, which includes local and educational channels, for $25 a month. Customers can then subscribe to individual channels or smaller bundles. The law requires the additional channels to be “reasonably priced.”
Like Canadians, many Americans are frustrated by the fact that, to get one channel they want, they are forced to pay for many more they do not. Cable companies are not entirely to blame; all too often, the major entertainment conglomerates like Fox, ABC-Disney, Comcast-NBCUniversal, and Viacom, force cable companies to purchase all their networks and sell them in “bundles.” Naturally, the cable companies pass along the cost, by forcing viewers to do the same.
It is long past time that American consumers receive the same benefits as those in other nations. To demand that Congress mandate Cable Choice, click here.