Canadian subscribers at center of broadcaster-cable dispute

The Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has decided that broadcasters can levy a fee-for-carriage on their programming and cable operators have to pay it. Cable operators, in turn, have said that they'll pay the fee--and then they'll pass it along to the consumers.

According to some reports, the CRTC figures consumers can afford a little more for cable TV or they can just put up with the inconvenience of watching shows on mobile or other "free" sites on the computer. Those who remain cable subscribers can expect to pay $1 to $10 a month more for cable in a country where the average cable bill has already increased almost 50 percent since rates were deregulated in 2002. The future may also be impacted by another CRTC ruling that allows advertising on cable video-on-demand programming as a way to "create a viable business model" for VoD.

Not to be ignored in a brouhaha mesmerizing American neighbors to the south, content producers who are having a hard time selling their wares to cash-poor Canadian TV think that cable and satellite operators should help out. They seem to think that the CRTC's actions are intended to help Canadian businesses like them and "the way the issue had been framed misdirected the discussion entirely," according to one Canadian programmer.

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