The Canadian Radio Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) recently renewed Canadian broadcast licenses for one year rather than seven.
This comes as a response to the public hearings that took place in early September to review the carrier practice of offering skinny TV packages. Since March 1st Canadian cable providers have been obligated to provide basic packages to customers at no more than $25, which allows them to either add on extra channels individually or in pre-packaged bundles of up to 10 channels.
The CRTC launched a public hearing in September after receiving over 1400 formal complaints from purchasers of these cheaper packages. Allegations included hesitancy to promote the low-cost packages and the exclusion of discounts and promotions for subscribers to these packages.
Bell in particular was criticized for downplaying its $25 package and demanding that “skinny package” customers, or fibre optic TV customers, in Ontario and Quebec sign up for its internet service as well. Bell has since dropped that requirement.
As of December 1st, cable providers will be obligate to give subscribers the ability to change their packages by adding and subtracting channels individually and in packages of 10 rather than restricting them to choosing either option.
The CRTC has also issued a statement of best practices that guides providers on how to best offer its services to customers, and teaches consumers what standards they should expect. Some of these suggestions include keeping package offerings simple and letting consumers add and drop channels online.
Furthermore, the CRTC has slashed the provider license renewal frequency rate from seven years to one year, mainly to monitor how Canada’s cable providers operate under these new best practices.