Federal government wants to unbundle cable packages

The speech from the throne made a lot of promises yesterday, including measures to change the way you buy cable.

Speech from the throne promises changes to the way you buy cable

An iStock image of a guy watching TV. (iStock)

The speech from the throne made a lot of promises Wednesday, including measures to change the way people buy cable. 

The federal government says it wants to help consumers by unbundling cable packages. Consumers would be able to pick the channels they want to pay for. 

Right now, Canada's biggest media companies lump popular channels in with their specialty offerings. Almost every channel you can get is owned by Shaw, Quebecor, Rogers or Bell. 

In their contracts, those media giants tell smaller distributors, such as Access Communications, to sell specialty channels in bundles. Jim Deane, CEO of Access Communications in Regina, said the company has been pushing Ottawa to allow "unbundling" for years.

"Some of the commercial terms we're getting from the specialty networks require bundling of other channels, for example," Deane said. "So before I can get a very popular channel like TSN, I may have to subscribe to other channels that I may or may not want to watch." 

SaskTel and Shaw told CBC News they have no comment on this story.

Unbundling cable packages may give consumers more choice, but it won't necessarily mean lower rates. Saskatoon cable customer Brian Weenk said he's skeptical.

"It's a great idea," Weenk said. "But there's no money in it for them. So it probably won't happen."
Last year, the CRTC told Bell it had to stop forcing carriers to bundle its specialty channels. However, it also said that meant Bell could charge more for the channels people do choose.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.