Bell Canada's strategy for new government-mandated skinny bundles: don't promote them

Bell Canada has reportedly told staff not to promote new $25-a-month skinny bundles intended to comply with the country's new mandate.

Starting today, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) requires MVPDs to offer customers local and regional Canadian television stations and provincial or territorial educational services in packages priced at no more than $25 a month.

According to the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC), Bell has products that meet the terms of this mandate. It just doesn't want anyone to buy them.

"Do not promote the Starter TV package," said a Bell training document obtained by the CBC. "There will be no advertising, and this package should only be discussed if the customer initiates the conversation."

"They're making the skinny basic package simply unbuyable," the staffer said to the news service. "What's been explained to me is that maybe one per cent of people would be interested in getting it."

Responding to the CBC, Bell spokeswoman Jacqueline Michelis said, "Sorry, I wouldn't comment on anonymous claims or documents you are finding."

According to the CRTC, the mandate also requires operators to advertise the skinny bundles.

"[We] will certainly be following through on ensuring that they promote this package and these opportunities as well as they promote their other packages," said Scott Hutton, the CRTC's executive director of broadcasting.

The CRTC rule is just part of a sweeping mandate to try to disaggregate pay-TV in the Great White North. By December, operators must also offer channels on an a la carte basis.

"We don't think people should be forced to buy bundled television channels when they're not interested in watching those channels and those shows," Industry Minister James Moore said in an interview last year. "We should have a pick-and-pay model when it comes to television channels."

For more:
- read this CBC story

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