Keyboard Commando – Even with à la carte choices, no more satellite service for me

by Mac Olsen

It’s hard to imagine now, but having only one TV channel for most of my pre-teen years made me feel like I lived in the backwater of civilization.

Or, the backwoods as it would be more accurately described.

That was over 40 years ago, of course, and although cable television was becoming the norm at the time, many small and remote communities had to wait a long time to receive that service.

Fast-forward to 2016 and we have telecommunication services that would have seemed unimaginable back then.

But, for all the hype, I have been turned off completely by satellite service.

In fact, I discontinued service with my provider over five months ago and I haven’t looked back.

Nor do I plan to return to it. Ever.

But, let’s put things in context before going further.

The CRTC has started holding hearings regarding the “skinny” TV packages offered by service providers.

As per an Edmonton Journal report from Sept. 6:

“The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) will review the ‘skinny’ TV packages … it mandated this spring and the pick-and-pay channels it will require as of Dec. 1, as part of its annual broadcasting licence renewal process at a two-day hearing in Gatineau, Que., starting Wednesday (Sept. 6). Companies must be in compliance to get their licences renewed.”

The report also says, by December, providers must offer channels à la carte, both individually and in small packages of up to 10 channels, so people can tailor their services.

Also, they must make customers aware these options exist.

The Journal report also says the Consumers’ Association of Canada and Public Interest Advocacy Centre contended in submissions that information on the packages is hard to find and that some are subject to unfair practices, such as ineligibility for bundling discounts and charges for access to high definition services.

But even with the new à la carte menus available, I have no desire to go back to satellite TV.

This is due primarily to the way content is provided and the Canadian content requirements.

For example, I did not like the packaging of all the Canwest Global channels as part of my subscription.

Apart from the local news content provided by each station, it’s virtually the same content on all Canwest Global channels.

Why did I have to pay to access all these channels, most of which I had no desire to watch in the first place.

Why did I have to pay for all the duplicate channels and content?

Sure, I could re-subscribe with my satellite provider to get an à la carte menu – and a lower price in the process.

But because of the former packaging I received, I am very wary of doing that.

For instance, while I could get some customized content that’s more satisfactory, if I want a specialty channel that comes with a high premium, then I’m back to square one.

Then there’s the Canadian content requirements that satellite service and cable TV providers have to meet.

I find much of the Canadian content on satellite TV boring. I would much prefer to have more American channels and content, such as the SyFy Channel.

And I despise the digital service fee that is universally attached the monthly bills for satellite service and cable TV, which goes into Canadian content development.

If the federal government wants to encourage “Canadian content” development, then it should not be done on the backs of media subscribers.

This digital service fee is nothing more than an unfair tax that consumers have to pay. Consumers like myself who have no interest in “Canadian content” promotion shouldn’t have to bear that burden.

And if “Canadian content” advocates wish for a source of money to promote their agenda, then they should work with the private sector to obtain it. It’s not up to subscribers to have to fund their agenda.

Then there’s the mandatory CBC content requirement.

I have made no secret of my contempt for this Crown Corporation. If I had my way, it would be shut down permanently, in all its formats.

I consider the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to be nothing more than a left-wing/Liberal propaganda platform, whose messages and “content” I have no intertest in. I liken the CBC to a “news broadcaster” from ‘The Hunger Games’ movies.

In those movies, citizens have “mandatory viewing.” They have to stop whatever they’re doing at the moment and watch a government broadcast, which is nothing more than a propaganda platform.

As such, the CRTC requirement for satellite service and cable TV providers to provide the CBC, should be eliminated entirely.

Accessing the CBC should be an option, it should not dictated from on high.

So, with my disdain for satellite service and Canadian content requirements laid out, what is there to like?

As mentioned, I discontinued my satellite service earlier this year. At the same time, I went with a new Internet Service Provider.

The amount of money I was spending for my satellite service was redirected into the new ISP, which offers far greater value than I expected.

Also, I subscribe to one Video-on-Demand service for less than $10 per month. I get far more viewing pleasure from this VOD service than I did with my satellite service provider.

Granted, the digital access fee also applies to this VOD service. Sadly, there’s nothing I can do about it.

Still, there are other outlets I can access that the digital access fee doesn’t apply to.

One of these is YouTube. There, I can watch American and other foreign content of more interest to me – and I’m not being penalized by the CRTC to access it.

And when I desire to access Canadian content, including news content, then I will go to websites such as the Edmonton Journal, The Globe and Mail, and the National Post. Or I will use the CTV News app on my computer, smartphone or tablet.

There’s also social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, to access. Most of the people, organizations and recreational/hobby groups that I “like” are from around the world.

Moreover, social media platforms aren’t mandated to carry Canadian content.

But, who knows? Perhaps the federal government and the CRTC will make that a requirement in the future.

So, while the new à la carte menus for satellite service may offer more consumer choice, I have given up entirely on this media platform.

I have nothing but contempt for the Canadian content requirements of the CRTC, and I am wary of satellite service and cable TV providers attaching strings to their new offerings.

To each, their own.

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