CRTC - Supreme Court and Direct TV

Regina - Sunday, April 28, 2002 - By: Stu Innes
Hi Timothy,
I was thinking you and your readers might be interested in a comment from an ordinary guy like me about the recent
Supreme Court TV ruling that may be criminalizing TV viewers who capture the American microwave signals that are bombarding us twenty-four hours a day whether we like it or not in our houses, cars, backyards, fields, farms. playgrounds and so forth - you get the idea.
The authorities are crying economic foul by claiming that Canadian TV providers are losing income revenue from the potential customers who have chosen to view a pirated signal as opposed to the Canadian TV choices. The CRTC has refused to rule against the pirate signal viewers on the grounds that signals originating outside Canada are fair game and not an infringement of Canadian law or opportunity.
What does the 'man on the street' have to say about all this? The simple fact, in my opinion, is people just want to watch a bit of TV without getting ripped off! Of course some folks are more selective than others with movie buffs being different than sports fans, who are different than soap opera viewers and families who are different than singles and male and female viewers of different age groups.
What's the problem then? We know everyone is different and the CRTC has made hard rules that require providers of TV signals to package a mix of channels that will hopefully please a majority and encourage some Canadian content and culture.
The problem is YOU CAN'T PLEASE EVERYONE ever!
Until the CRTC allows cable and satellite providers to offer true pay per view and true subscription - hourly or single channel purchasing, TV consumers will find ways to exercise their preference to view - what they want - when they want - anyway they can.
This is one of the reasons C-Band dishes were so popular and continue to be used to a certain degree. A C-Band dish service offers packages but also individual channel options - for example TOONS - $9.00 per year. Sci-fi / USA $40 per year.
No extra wasted time or money for channels that are never watched and never wanted. What consumers and providers want is a system where the customer phones up or logs on and pays for what they want when they want - it is that simple.
To a very limited degree it has been happening as a few people who have learned to use the existing system at Accesscomm, phone up on Friday after work and say "turn on the superstations", then on Sunday PM they phone up and say "turn off the superstations", thereby paying for three days service instead of the full week, knowing full well that they cannot find the time to view the superstations during the week or perhaps only wish to see weekend shows or movie specials. ( I have not had cable for several years but a call to your local office will tell you if this type of situation still exists as it used to)
The other problem of course is money - for a minimum of about $55 dollars Bell Expressvu offers the minimum viewers like myself might want along with a lot of unwanted/never watched stuff. That's a lot of money and a full third of it is commercials! Even if the price was reduced by a third it would be a lot of money.
Let say I want to watch the news three times a day (that's about ten minutes without the sports); a half hour show and an hour show four days a week and another three hours per day Sat/Sun, that's fourteen hours per week and fifty-six hours per month. That is over a dollar an hour after tax! Shouldn't TV be cheap and how many hours a month would one have to watch
just to get a fair price?
The less you watch the more you pay under the present system and that is why the problem exists as the CRTC and the Canadian providers have failed to provide a reasonable alternative for selective viewers in particular and not much better for prolific viewers as the line-up is poor at best compared with US signals.
Even more of a problem is the TV industry itself. Consider the family of viewers who is fairly selective and wants to be able to watch what and when they want so their fast paced lives will be complimented by the TV and not ruled by it. They subscribe to
Cable Plus - 62 channels - Expressvu Satellite - several hundred channels - and they pirate DSS signals -700 channels.
Cable Plus offers regular programming, news, sports and a few movies for $40 per month or $480 per year. Setup cost minimal. Expressvu offers regular programming , news, more sports and a few more movies for $60 per month or $720 per year. Setup cost $200 or so. DSS pirated signal offers more regular programming, all news, all sports except some Canadian, all movies all the time. $0-$100 per year. Setup cost $400 - $1000.

C-Band offers all choices for a comparable price to cable but allows selective subscription to exactly what you want. Meaning for half of a cable fee you can get quite a selection. Setup cost - pretty cheap because people are just giving away their old systems in favour of the smaller more convenient dishes.
Which is the better deal for the consumer of TV? It depends on too many variables which is why providers need to offer more personalized service options. Of course the real problem can be identified after one has surfed through the cable channels, and the Expressvu channels and the DSS channels (1600 channels or more) only to find out that there is really nothing on worth watching anyway!
Don't take my word for it - go ahead and follow these links and browse the line-ups for yourself.

I want Sci-fi, Home Improvement re-runs, the superstations, a few networks, Learning and toons (for the kids) and the local news and that's it and I don't want to have to pay $50 per month.

Stu Innes

Images on the page were taken by FTLComm in a single block in Tisdale six houses do not have direct TV dishes.
The image above of a large C-band dish was taken by Stu Innes in Regina.